8 December 2000

Finnie calls for end to quotas

SCOTTISH rural affairs minister, Ross Finnie, says that milk quotas should be abolished at the CAP milk regime review in 2002 and that he has consulted the industry before reaching that conclusion.

But Scottish NFU milk committee chairman Ian Kerr claims the union has not been consulted and continues to favour retention of quotas.

The row surfaced at the Scottish Dairy Conference in Edinburgh when the minister said he favoured removal of quota.

"I hope that with Italy, Denmark, Sweden and now Germany, we can convince member states to allow dairy farmers to benefit from the economies of producing more milk without the penalties of securing additional quota."

He said he had met with his English, Welsh and Northern Ireland counterparts so that a UK view could be put forward.

Mr Kerr said recent increases in producer prices had arisen from a milk shortage. "Are you confident that there will be a margin for us if production is unfettered?"

The minister replied that producers would have to read market signals and increase or decrease output accordingly. "But if there is potential for expansion it can be exploited without the unnecessary impediment of buying extra quota."

After the debate, Mr Kerr said the union remained adamant that the quota system should not be dismantled until there are structures in place to ensure a profitable return from extra production. &#42