The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (Defra's) 12-week long consultation on "Contractual relationships in the UK dairy industry" closed last night (Tuesday, September 15).

This consultation was in response to concerns raised that primary producers, including dairy farmers, tend to occupy positions of relative market weakness in the food supply chain.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) Scotland’s Milk Committee Chair, Gary Mitchell, said:

"The consultation period was an exceptionally busy time for the NFU. We welcome the engagement we have had with Scottish dairy farmers on this important issue and submitting responses was the easy part of this whole process.

The hard work will begin when we hear the outcome from Defra and then we can start to plan the building blocks for the future.

"We understand that Defra will use the rest of 2020 to collate and distill all the responses it has received. We look forward to hearing the outcome of this process so the NFU can engage in the next step."

'Important that our voices were heard'

Mitchell continued:

"The NFU believes the introduction of well-considered, appropriate legislation regarding dairy contracts between dairy farmers and milk buyers is essential and this was stressed in our response to Defra.

This will create the foundations of a modern, thriving industry based on contracts that are agreed, not imposed, through free and equal negotiation and in good faith for the benefit of all in the supply chain.

"Covid-19 and Brexit are only two of the challenges facing us at the current time, and it is essential that all sectors in the dairy supply chain are best equipped to meet these challenges head on," Mitchell concluded.