21 April 2000

OKsought on groups

THE Secretary of State for trade and industry Stephen Byers, will wait for advice from the Office of Fair Trading before deciding whether the three regional milk producer groups set up after the split of Milk Marque are allowed to move into processing.

Responding to the House of Commons agriculture select committee report into the marketing of milk, the government said it noted the committees view that a quick decision was needed and Mr Byers hoped to make a statement before Easter.

But a DTI spokesman indicated an announcement before Easter might be optimistic. The department was still waiting for advice from the director general of the OFT.

A decision would be made once that advice had been received and it would not be an instantaneous turn around, he said.