DISCUSSIONS on plans to regulate milk contracts were top of the agenda when dairy officials from the UK’s four farming unions met in Birmingham this week.

Speaking after the meeting NFU Scotland’s milk committee chairman, John Smith, said: "All four unions welcome the fact that the government has listened to our call, in the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) consultation, for a fairer, more balanced supply chain.

Mr Smith went on to say: “The Farming Unions have argued for fairer, more effective and equitable milk contracts for many years and this is a huge opportunity for the entire UK dairy sector.

“The blunt wording of the current EU regulation on milk contracts isn’t suitable for our diverse UK dairy industry – this is one of the reasons the UK opted for the voluntary code of conduct for contracts when the EU regulation first came into force.

"Rather than rush through a text developed for the whole EU dairy sector, we would rather work with Government on improving this text to achieve better results for UK dairy farmers and dairy processors. This needs to go hand in hand with better farmer representation and better market data.

Mr Smith concluded: “These are three corners of a triangle that will help ensure more fairness in the supply. Regulating on one of these areas isn’t sufficient.

“This will be the thrust of our response to Government in its upcoming consultation on compulsory milk contracts.”

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 314 store heifers at Ayr on Thursday to a top of £1,295 per head and 247.4p per kg to average £824.08 and 218.1p (-4.5p on the week), while 407 store, beef-bred bullocks peaked at £1,310 and 288.6p to level at £903.43 and 231.8p (-7.7p). Fifty-five store, B&W bullocks sold to £820 and 159.8p to average £603.00 and 146.5p (-15.6p).