Reassured By Euro MP’s Stance On Milk Contracts

UK - National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland has been reassured by the European Parliament Milk Report lead draftsman, Jim Nicholson MEP, of his intention to set in concrete a legal framework which could give milk producers enough power to negotiate with processors for a sufficient return on their produce.
calendar icon 25 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The Union’s Vice President, Allan Bowie, and milk policy manager George Jamieson, met the Ulster Unionist Party MEP at his office in Belfast to discuss his report on contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector.

Mr Nicholson’s report, which will be published in draft form in the next few weeks, draws on the recommendations of the EU High Level Group which were announced in August 2010 and were followed by the EU Commission’s response in December. The major conclusion of the EU Commission is that producers do not have sufficient negotiating power to ensure that contracts are effective and it is on this point that NFUS is focussing a lot of time and effort.

Speaking from Belfast, Allan Bowie said: “The ability of producers to negotiate fair contracts, particularly with relation to elements regarding a pricing mechanism and the volume contracted, is absolutely key. We welcome the opportunity today to sit down with Mr Nicholson to discuss his forthcoming milk report, which will be an important stepping stone in delivering on the robust recommendations of the Commission’s High Level Group.

“Recent comments from Commissioner Ciolos suggest he is adamant that the milk market must change significantly, the changes must come soon, and certainly before 2013. Short-term issues are paramount from Scottish producers’ perspective. The commission is acutely aware that with quotas ending in 2015 there are issues which must be addressed now, otherwise the market could become even more volatile than it is today, with farmers ultimately suffering.

“Transparency, contracts and the ability of producers to get more leverage are important and we hope these will feature strongly in Mr Nicholson’s report, when published. Coupled with this, we still believe strongly that processors, although doing their bit, must get more from their retailer customers big and small, which they can feed back to their farmer suppliers.”

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