The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) has said new dairy contract legislation coming into effect marks a “positive move forward for the sector”.

The union said the legalisation comes into effect after more than a decade of campaigning by UK farming unions calling out unfair practices in the dairy supply chain.

The new legislation, called the ‘Fair Dealings Obligations (Milk) 2024′ (FDOM24), came into force on July 9 and means all new milk contracts made from then need to be compliant with the regulations.

Any existing milk contracts now have a 12-month transition period before they must adhere to the new legislation requirements by July 9, 2025.

It is hoped that the new regulations will establish transparency and accountability across the dairy supply chain by stopping contract changes being imposed without agreement.

There will also be a system in place to enable farmers to verify the calculation of variable prices. 

The new regulations also include an enforcement regime, that will be processed via the Agricultural Supply Chain Adjudicator.

NFUS milk committee chair, Bruce Mackie said:

“Having the new `Fair Dealing Obligations (Milk) Regulations 2024` come into force on July 9 is a very positive step for dairy producers across the UK. 

“It has taken more than a decade of campaigning by NFU Scotland and the other UK farming unions to reach this point which we believe will be pivotal in securing fairness across the dairy supply chain and deliver for our members.

“I’d encourage anyone who is experiencing any issues or wishes some advice regarding new or existing dairy contracts to utilise the support that is available to them via the new Agricultural Supply Chain Adjudicator (ASCA) guidance online or by contacting the Scottish Dairy Hub.”

Online resources

Coinciding with the new introduction of FDOM24, the ASCA launched a series of online webpages providing guidance to help anyone lodge a complaint.

On these pages, resources include:

  • More information about the ASCA and office, including contact details, what a farmer/producer can complain to them about, and what happens if doing so;
  • A complaints form that needs to be filled in and submitted to make a relevant complaint;
  • Statutory guidance to FDOM24 covering matters that will be taken into account when deciding any civil penalty or compensation payable if there has been a breach of the regulations, as well as rights to make representations during the complaints process, and the right to appeal to the first-tier tribunal if the claimant is unhappy with the outcome of their complaint;
  • Additional guidance to FDOM24.

NFUS has said it is pleased to have secured a meeting with ASCA, Richard Thompson, at the end of July.