Moray dairy farmers are facing a crisis that has to be addressed by the Scottish Government if they are to survive.
That is the view being expressed by the Labour candidate for the Moray seat in May’s general election, Sean Morton.
Welcoming the news that the Rural Affairs Committee would hold an inquiry into concerns over the dairy industry in the face of plunging milk prices, the Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor said that there was an urgent need to ensure Moray farmers received a fair price for what they produce.
Global over-production is being blamed for cutting the cost of a two-litre carton of milk to just £1 – and that has in turn led to delays in payments to already struggling dairy farmers. Supermarkets are now selling milk at as low as 89p for four-pint cartons with industry leaders saying that the situation has now led to “unsustainable prices” for the dairy industry.
Mr Morton said: “We have seen a drop in the number of dairy herds in Moray over the years and this latest crisis will make things even more difficult.
“We need to ensure that farmers are getting a fair price for what they produce and tackle the big supermarket chains threatening the livelihoods of individual farmers and the people they employ.
“It’s a big industry in Scotland and I want to see more of it in Moray – not less.”
Rural Affairs Secretary and Moray MSP Richard Lochhead admitted that farmers were facing severe difficulties and had to be paid a fair price for what they produce. He said: “Like the rural affairs committee I agree that the decision by the supermarkets to sell four pints of milk for as little as 89p raises serious questions.
“I have already called for retailers to do more to support Scotland’s hard-working dairy farmers and producers.”
However, Mr Morton insisted that more needed to be done: “We need to address the imbalance that exists in favour of big retailers to create a level playing field.”