Farm leaders have accused milk processors of “picking and choosing” which parts they implement of the dairy code of practice aimed at ensuring producers are fairly treated.

NFU representatives will meet dairy companies again at the end of January following growing concern that milk buyers are dragging their heels over implementation of the code, which has still not been fully implemented almost five months since it was agreed.

NFU dairy chairman Mansel Raymond said: “We are planning to meet Dairy UK at the end of this month to thrash out how we move forward at speed and also the possibility of putting forward an independent arbitrator to see that the code is made to work.”

It was vital all aspects of the code were adopted, Mr Raymond told the NFU council. Buyers looking seriously at the code included Dairy Crest and Muller, who were also looking at establishing pricing formulas for farmgate milk.

“Some non-Dairy UK members – also some other members – are picking and choosing. They think they can take what they like of the voluntary code to suit their own businesses.”
Mansel Raymond, NFU dairy chairman

But some other buyers were cherry-picking parts of the code to implement. “Some non-Dairy UK members – also some other members – are picking and choosing. They think they can take what they like of the voluntary code to suit their own businesses.”

The NFU would name and shame buyers who had not implemented the code by 1 April 2013, said Mr Raymond. Processors had accepted the voluntary code in principle last autumn and there was no reason not to implement it.

Even co-operatives were being less than helpful, said Mr Raymond. “There is no way we can accept a price cut announcement from Arla Milk Link to Milk Link members with hours’ notice rather than 30 days. That 30 days’ notice must go right across the industry.”

Dairy UK director general Jim Begg said: “Dairy companies firmly support the voluntary code. The complicated process of implementing the code is in full swing and companies are working through the details. It is expected that this will be completed within the agreed time frame.”

More on this topic

Keep up with the latest on milk price cuts on our dedicated page