15 April 1999
Scots urge Bank to curb Pound

By Allan Wright

SCOTTISH farming leaders are stepping up their efforts to persuade the Bank of Englands Monetary Policy Committee that more action is needed to counter the continued strength of Sterling.

The plight of dairy farmers is at the forefront of the action.

“Every sector is suffering from the strong Poound, but milk is particularly badly affected. We are facing a further cut in producer prices and we must seek some action,” said Scottish NFU president, Jim Walker.

The union is to meet Bank of England Scottish representative Catriona Brown tomorrow (Friday) and has invited Scottish Milk chairman John Duncan to attend.

Mr Duncan will also join the union meeting later this month with the Monetary Policy Committee adviser for Scotland, Jim Stretton.

Mr Duncan welcomed the invitations and confirmed that the strength of sterling was the biggest single factor in low producer returns. “The high value of the pound reduces intervention price support; it sucks in imports of dairy products, and it makes our exports uncompetitive,” he said.

Although contracts with some customers had not been concluded, Mr Duncan expected Scottish Milk prices to follow Milk Marques drop of 0.85ppl, which would mean a producer return of around 15p after seasonal deductions in May and June.

But Mr Duncan was less concerned about reports that Scottish milk quota was moving to England and Northern Ireland. “It will be some time before the Intervention Board tells us the final position at the end of March.

“However, we know that current milk deliveries suggest there has been no loss of quota. We suspect it will be the same story as last year when we had increased production but from fewer producers,” he said.