UK dairy farmers have struck an ‘in principle’ deal with processing firms to end the ongoing debate over milk prices.
The agreement will seek to ensure the supermarket chains and buyers give farmers sensible notice before changing their prices, and allow farmers a get-out from contracts in order to negotiate better deals for themselves.
The development was announced following talks between the NFU and Dairy UK at the Royal Welsh Show, in Powys (UK), chaired by farming minister Jim Paice.
Agricultural unions say that their members are angry at being paid less for the milk they produce by the large supermarket chains – which are aiming to keep the cost of dairy products for customers as low as possible.
Following several hours of talks, both sides have agreed to sign up to a new voluntary code of practice. It means firms buying milk, like big supermarkets, would give a ‘sensible’ notice period when changing their prices – so farmers would have enough time to opt out of any deals.
Government officials have said that they could still bring in legislation at a later date if the code fails to work – but admitted ministers would still not be able to dictate prices.
In a statement, Dairy UK said: "We are very pleased that heads of agreement have been reached on the voluntary code of practice. There is now a lot of work to be done on taking the code to the implementation stage and we are committed to doing this."
Source: The Guardian/Press Association