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Voluntary Code of Practice Given Seven Recommendations

06 October 2014

UK – A review of a code overseeing contracts between milk producers and buyers has concluded by forwarding seven improvement recommendations.

Member of Scottish Parliament Alex Fergusson, chair of the review, has called for revisions to ensure clarity of the voluntary code of practice (VCoP), two years on from its inception.

Mr Fergusson called for better knowledge of the existing code, dismissing a need for drastic alteration.

He said: "I have spent a considerable amount of time appreciating and understanding the various differing relationships within the sector and the challenges they face. Having done so, I am strongly of the view that the Code already holds the key to addressing many of the concerns that were raised with me.

“It is however vitally important that everyone involved in the sector, be they producer or purchaser, fully understands the Code so that they can use it in the positive and constructive way in which it has been drawn up.

Revisions included a demand for clarification that a 30 day price change notification is only required when a price is falling.

Also suggested was a ‘Good Practice Clause’ to safeguard producers against ‘undue pressure’ from signing a new contract.

Two measures looked at improving the coverage of the code, one calling for wider and another being a six monthly review process for the National Farmers Union of Scotland and England with DairyUK.

DairyUK welcomed the announcement, but added recommendations not met by consensus from its members are a ‘problem’ and cannot be accepted.

Explaining an example, chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “On the central issue of notice periods the reality is that the differing levels of notice periods have created a security of supply issue for some of our members and risk creating a division within the industry.

“Long term, disparity around security of supply will not be helpful in attracting investment into the industry.

“We are continuing dialogue around aspects of the voluntary code with the farming unions going forward."

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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