6 September 2000
Scots tell dairies to pay up

By FWi staff

A SCOTTISH farmers leader has joined calls for significant increases in the price farmers receive for milk.

National Farmers Union of Scotland president Jim Walker said milk companies should stop delaying increases and stick their publicly stated position.

He said: Last year, Scottish dairy farmers were told that currency and commodity demand were the only factors involved in determining farm milk prices.

That being the case they must rise now — and rise significantly.

Mr Walker said since the last selling round the euro had strengthened by 5% &#151 a rise in itself which justified an increase of almost 1p/litre.

The same period has seen prices rise in commodities such as cheese and milk powder, and a tightening of milk supplies, he said.

The move by the NFUS to increase pressure of dairy companies follows similar statements by English counterparts.

The National Farmers Union has called for increases of between 2-3p/litre, and the militant Farmers For Action group says 3p/litre is available.

But farmers hopes were dashed last week when Express Milk Partnership announced it is to pay suppliers an extra 1p/litre from October.

Reacting to the news, Robert Wiseman Dairies said it had been looking at a 2p/litre rise, but warned that the industry had to move as a whole.

It said the Express decision has put the cat among the pigeons.

Farmer supply group Axis said the Express announcement bore little relation to what it might achieve.

Dairy Crest/Unigate, the countrys biggest ex-farm buyer and largest maker of commodity products refused to comment.

Mr Walker said dairy companies could not argue that one companys decision set a precedent for others.

He said: If that is not anti-competitive behaviour, I dont know what is!

The average milk price in 1999 was the lowest for 10 years. This year they have fallen yet further to just 15.34p/litre, according to official figures.