By FWi staff

MPs in the North East are being warned that the prospects for jobs and investment in the regions dairy industry hang in the balance as the Government considers its inquiry into the supply of milk in the UK.

The regions dairy companies – MD Foods, Associated Co-operative creameries, Waterford Dairies and Express Dairies – are calling on MPs to push for a change in the way milk is sold from farms for processing.

The Dairy Industry Federation (DIF), which represents the UKs dairy companies, maintains that the milk selling system, operated by Milk Marque, is inefficient. It claims farmers and dairies are prevented from working together to develop growth markets for dairy products.

DIF director general, Jim Begg said that the current selling system has caused nothing but uncertainty. “In the past, Milk Marque has forced some processing companies to go out of business,” he added.

“The industrys future prosperity lies in farmers and dairies working together to produce quality high value products which consumers increasingly demand.”

Mr Begg also warned against a short-termist view of the industry saying that the dairy industry must be given a fair, free and open market for their milk if they are to take advantage of future opportunities in higher added value

products. “That will be good news to dairy companies, farmers and consumers – its about protecting our local heritage.”