Move on milk rules
DAIRY farming leaders are set to appeal directly to the Office of Fair Trading to change the rules governing the marketing of raw milk in time for the next selling round in July.
"We are close to taking this action and are liaising with Milk Marque but feel that an independent approach by the NFU of England and Wales may be beneficial," said NFU milk committee chairman Michael Lambert.
He was speaking in Edinburgh after an emergency meeting of milk leaders from the three UK farm unions was called. Scottish vice-president Peter Chapman also pledged his support for a direct approach to the Office of Fair Trading.
"The Milk Marque selling round influences prices throughout the whole country. So we would support any move that would help to free Milk Marque from the obligation to sell 90% of its milk at any tender price, before having to withdraw and offer the whole lot again at a lower price," said Mr Chapman.
Ulster Farmers Union milk chairman John Thomson said the strength of their dairy co-operative with its own processing facilities was the single reason why Ulster dairy farmers were receiving 1.5p/litre more for their milk than those in Britain. "We are not under the same pressure from the Milk Marque selling system," said Mr Thomson.
Mr Lambert and Mr Thomson agreed that farmer co-operatives had to have a bigger stake in milk manufacture with the capacity to take 15% off the market.