18 April 2000
Byers keeps milk co-ops waiting

By FWi staff

THE government is unlikely to fulfil its pledge to decide before Easter whether farmers co-operatives will be allowed to process milk.

Stephen Byers, secretary of state for trade and industry, is waiting for advice from Office of Fair Trading before making a decision.

He must decide whether the three regional producer groups set up after the split of Milk Marque are allowed to move into processing.

The government said that it noted the view of the House of Commons agriculture select committee that a quick decision was needed.

In a response to the committees report into the marketing of milk, it said that Mr Byers hoped to make a statement before Easter.

But a spokesman at the Department of Trade and Industry told Farmers Weekly that an announcement before Easter might be optimistic.

The Department of Trade and Industry was still waiting for advice from the director general of the Office of Fair Trading, he added.

A decision would be made once that advice had been received and it would not be an instantaneous turn around, said the spokesman.