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Fairer framework for farming

Published: 6 Sep 2015 10:49

Lochhead suggests key elements of a fairer deal for farmers across the UK.

Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has written to UK Farming Ministers calling for a united front for farmers the length and breadth of the country ahead of an emergency summit in Brussels.

Mr Lochhead, who will attend the emergency council meeting in Brussels on Monday, believes Ministers and the UK's farming unions should be working together to create a Fairer Framework for Farming. His letter sets out potential asks of retailers, the food service and others working in the supply chain.

The Cabinet Secretary said:

"At the meeting between UK farming Ministers and farming unions last month, we agreed on the severity of the issues facing farmers and on the need for urgent steps to safeguard the industry. Farmers need help and they need it now, we owe it to them to turn fine words into reality.

"We have an unprecedented opportunity to put an agreed ask to retailers and food service across the country to support our farmers and get the sector back on its feet. Our joint aim must be to secure a thriving supply chain that is transparent and fair, across all parts of the UK. We must create a Fairer Framework for Farming."

Mr Lochhead proposes to his fellow Ministers that a clear set of commitments are drawn up for the different players in the supply chain, having regard to EU and competition law. They are designed to make a real difference to the farming sector, be ambitious but deliverable, and involve a wide range of links in the supply chain.

He would like to see the following commitments put into place:

  • A commitment to encourage a thriving supply chain, including primary producers, throughout the UK in the short and medium term.
  • Refining and delivering best practice on labelling/menus/packaging so that the consumer is in no doubt as to sourcing.
  • Refining and delivering best practice on display, with clear differentiation between products of different origin and an end to co-mingling.
  • Commitments on sourcing, including active steps to increase purchases from UK suppliers and annual statements of sourcing policy and practice.
  • A commitment to fostering medium term relationships with UK suppliers, including the operation of producer groups and a preference for longer term contracts.
  • Co-ordination of (for example) inspection requirements so as to reduce costs in the supply chain.

The Cabinet Secretary added:

"We all have to play our part in delivering a fairer supply chain. As part of this Framework, I want to see the public sector in all four parts of the UK sign up to delivering against these commitments and the farming unions commit to continuous improvement in terms of efficiency, quality and consistency, and to a willingness to commit to the medium term contracts and relationships being asked of others.

"I will raise all of this with my fellow Minsters in Brussels and will also be meeting representatives from the NFUS too. I would be glad to welcome any colleagues or other NFU officials who would like to join us."