FARM LEADERS have endorsed a report by MPs which says the milk market is not operating properly.

The National Farmers‘ Union said the report largely reflected the evidence given by the union to the environment, food and rural affairs select committee.

The report concluded that was a lack of transparency and trust in the supply chain, and there was a margin of the retail price the committee could not account for.

It also said there was a fundamental imbalance of negotiating strength between supermarkets and their suppliers.

“It is important that the government and competition authorities take heed of the report‘s findings,” said dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones.

“The NFU believes this report is an informative analysis of the events leading up to the price negotiations last autumn. We must all learn the lessons of that experience.”

Lobby group Farm agreed the report gave an objective analysis of the problems facing the dairy sector, but warned against relying on government to change the situation.

Devon farmer and member John Sherrell said: “The EFRA committee does say that the imbalance can be redressed if farmers act together.

“Farmers can no longer sit on the sidelines and hope that things will get better. It is time for those willing to fight for the values we believe in to get active and to champion this industry.”

But NFU Scotland said the report could not afford to sit on the shelf and the government should take heed of the recommendations.

“The government has a huge stake in ensuring the dairy sector is profitable and its producers are not ripped off,” said NFUS president John Kinnaird.

“Now it must step up to the plate and meet the challenge of this report.”

The Dairy Industry Association which represents the major processors said the report identified the need for continuing dialogue along the supply chain.

Jim Begg, director general of DIAL, said: “Some of the issues covered need further examination, but on balance the thrust I am taking from the report is the need for the industry to improve its communications and to strive for maximum efficiency, both on farms and in factories.”