12 July 2002

Axe milk quotas call from Scots

DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett faces domestic battles during negotiations of the EU mid-term review, after Scotlands rural development minister Ross Finnie rejected her view that milk quotas should be abolished.

Responding to a letter from NFU Scotland asking him to outline his views on the dairy industry, Mr Finnie stated that he did not think at present there was a strong case for removing the milk quota regime.

Union president Jim Walker was delighted, believing that retention of quotas is vital to maintain and develop a viable and diverse Scottish dairy industry.

Mrs Becketts idea of removing quotas would, said Mr Walker, wipe out large chunks of dairying in Scotland and concentrate milk production in only the most favourable areas.

"Mr Finnies comments on the retention of a milk quota regime are a significant recognition of the importance of dairy farming throughout Scotland," said Mr Walker.

"In his letter, Mr Finnie also stated that he would ensure that the interests of Scotlands dairy farmers are taken fully into account in the mid-term review process," he added.

&#8226 Mr Finnie is expected to set up a working group to agree the best policy for Scotland. &#42