18 January 2000
Call for milk quota overhaul

A CALL for a radical review of the way the milk quota is operated in the UK was made yesterday at the Semex Dairy Conference in Glasgow.

Neil Davidson, chief executive of Express Dairies, quoted research carried out by Manchester University which suggested that quota trading accounted for 2.5p for every litre produced in the UK.

He called on the government to order a review of the system at the end of the quota year and suggested that quota should be re-issued to farmers on the basis of production.

Mr Davidson claimed that an opportunity had been missed at the time of deregulation, when the decision was made not to go for integrated farmers co-operatives which would include processing and manufacturing capacity.

He admitted that starting again from scratch was unrealistic, but it was feasible for there to be local integration, possibly in support of local cheese production.

Richard Ashworth, chairman of the Wiltshire-based United Milk producer group, took a different tack on the importance of farmer-owned processing capacity.

He said the formation of such a capability was essential to offering an alternative to the current processor “stranglehold” on the raw milk market.

He also thought it was important to re-engineer the supply chain to take out layers of cost.

He pointed out that in much of Europe dairy farms were smaller but the co-operative processing plants were much bigger and cheaper to run.