Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson has been appointed to chair the UK-wide review of the voluntary Dairy Code of Practice.
Following the announcement of the appointment, which was made by NFU Scotland, the NFU and Dairy UK, Mr Fergusson said: “I feel deeply honoured to have been asked to take on this role, and look forward to playing my part in reviewing and updating this voluntary Code of Practice between milk producers and milk processors that has been in place for the past year.
“The introduction of the Code of Practice was hugely important in overcoming many of the sensitivities that previously existed within the chain of milk production.
“With goodwill on all sides – and I am convinced that goodwill exists – my task will not be a particularly difficult one. However, there are one or two areas that clearly require further discussion, and I look forward to playing my part in ensuring the voluntary code is robust and fit for the future.”
The appointment of Mr Fergusson was approved unanimously by the three industry organisations involved.
The review process, which is now underway, is expected to be completed by the spring.
Mr Fergusson, who farmed before entering parliament, added: “The creation of the voluntary code was welcomed widely across the industry and the review process presents a good opportunity for all to constructively address the issues that have emerged over the past year or so. I will bear very firmly in mind that we are trying to achieve fairness and progress for the industry.”
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said: “All of us who have been involved in discussions over the review are delighted to have the support and participation of Alex Fergusson, someone who is held in very high regard.
“We look forward to working closely with him and offering every assistance throughout the review. There are a number of issues which have to be looked at and the review offers the chance to deal with them in the round.”
Mansel Raymond, chairman of the NFU dairy board, said: “The NFU is committed to the improvement of commercial relations between farmers and milk buyers, though the development of better milk supply contracts. The industry has fantastic opportunities for growth ahead of it and the code helps create an environment of trust and collaboration to achieve this. We intend to make the most of this opportunity to strengthen and develop the code for the future.”
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “We are delighted that a man of Alex Fergusson’s experience and standing has agreed to fill the role of chair of the review group. The code remains a major step forward to ensure effective, fair and transparent contracts are in place to deliver a collaborative and progressive supply chain, that works for all in a growing dairy market. NFUS is committed to working with the review group and Alex to ensure the code moves forward to its next phase.”
Submissions to the review are invited and are to be made via Dairy UK, NFU or the NFUS, rather than to the chairman directly.