North East MSP Christian Allard is to write to supermarkets urging them to support local dairy producers by selling locally produced milk in the Year of Food and Drink.
Mr Allard’s call comes following a visit to Drimmies Farm in Inverurie, as a combination of rising supply and falling demand puts pressure on milk prices.
The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and the Environment Committee has launched an inquiry to see what can be done to help dairy farmers cope with further reductions in the price of milk.
Co-operatives, processors and retailers are among those that will be called before the rural affairs committee this week to explain what they are doing to protect dairy farmers from poor prices.
Mr Allard met with Roy Mitchell, owner of Drimmies Farm. He was shown around the 300-cow dairy farm which has been in the family for four generations.
Commenting, Christian Allard said, “Dairy farming is an integral part of farming here in the North East of Scotland and it is particularly important that we support our milk producers in these challenging times.
“Making the best of our local larder is an important part of making Scotland a Good Food Nation.
“Supermarkets have an important role to play in this and selling locally produced milk would be a good place to start – it would give producers the opportunity to provide for the community and in turn the community would have the chance to support their local producer.
“That is why I am writing to supermarkets to urge them to get behind local farmers and sell local milk.”
Roy Mitchell said: “I back any calls for local retailers to sell locally produced milk and I welcome the idea of a Scottish milk brand to promote our quality produce.”
Mr Allard also welcomed the role of the Dairy Skills Initiative – a scheme which offers school leavers a 12-week placement on dairy farms – in supporting the dairy sector. The initiative has been highlighted by the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham as a key means of boosting the sector.
Mr Allard said, “Maintaining and enhancing skills levels in the sector is key to the industry.
“It is important that young people have every opportunity to join the dairy industry.”