Government “must heed dairy industry calls” said MSP

South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish has called on Government ministers to heed the calls of dairy farmers and act to help the industry.

Her call echoes the warnings which have been made by the industry in recent months which has led to farmers seeing the price they receive for their milk fall.

Claudia Beamish’s colleague, Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, has written to the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP to ask for an urgent update on what action the Scottish Government is taking in order to help the industry.

Claudia Beamish MSP said: “Just five months ago, the Scottish Government brought forward its dairy action plan which included 25 points which were supposed to help the industry. Yet during the time the situation which the industry is facing is becoming more and more serious.

“The Government really need to heed the warnings which are coming from farmers some of whom have reported that they are having to sell cattle in order to stay afloat. I hope that Richard Lochhead will be able to come forward with greater clarity on how his action plan is being implemented and how it will ensure that the dairy industry can be sustainable in the long term.

“For example the action plan had a target date of May by which time the Scottish Government had committed to “engage actively with retailers on dairy products...including backing Scottish products in Scottish stores”. I think it is fair to ask what has been the outcome of this and many other commitments which were made.

“Greater media attention nationally to this issue seems to be encouraging the large retailers to change their approach. The announcement by some of the large retailers that they are to put in place measures to help farmers are welcome in so far as they go, but they are limited. The problem is not just related to the milk we buy in the shops. The price farmers receive for milk for butter, cheese and other produce has not been addressed. The plight of the dairy industry throughout the supply chain can also be helped by a fresh focus on the development of identifiable Scottish produce. Consumers can aid this process by asking for Scottish produce when we shop.

The Scottish Government can play a key role in helping Scottish farmers through this difficult time and I hope that they will come forward quickly with longer term solutions.”