11 August 1999
NFU to challenge milk report

THE National Farmers Union (NFU) is to seek a judicial review of the recommendations of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on milk.

The union is making its legal challenge because it is concerned about the reports recommendations which effectively bar dairy farmers from forming co-operatives and investing in processing milk themselves.

Lawyers will claim the report was based on information that was outdated and had little regard to market conditions across Europe, where many farm co-ops have larger market shares.

The report, published in July, was critical of Milk Marque saying it had manipulated its selling system to keep milk prices high. It came out against the dairy co-op being allowed to engage in processing because of its dominant market position.

The report also recommended the break-up of Milk Marque to break its monopoly power. This recommendation has been rejected by Stephen Byers, trade and industry secretary.

Scottish co-ops were exonerated from the findings.