AN MP has welcomed a Government pledge to consider legislating if the voluntary code of practice governing the dairy industry fails.
Heather Wheeler spoke after securing the commitment from agriculture and food minister David Heath during a parliamentary debate.
She said: “I welcome the minister’s comments that he will consider legislation if the industry code fails to work.
“Our farmers work hard and contribute significantly to our economy; we need to ensure they are given a fair price so they can continue to do so.”
During the debate, the Tory MP asked Mr Heath what the Government was doing to help the dairy sector – an industry which last year saw farmers hold demonstrations in protest against what they claimed were the low prices paid to them by milk processors.
She also criticised Arla-Milk Link for giving farmers ‘just one day’s notice’ of a recent price cut, arguing that it was ‘against commitments made in the code’
“For the voluntary code to work, we must ensure there is a level playing field,” said Mrs Wheeler, before asking Mr Heath ‘how he intends to ensure fairness for producers and processors’.
The minister said he had stressed the importance of the code in talks with the industry.
Mr Heath said he was also consulting with farmers to examine ways to strengthen their position.
Last month, the Government introduced a £5 million fund to support new co-operation structures, investment in technology or attempts to take advantage of new market opportunities abroad.