New dairy regulations promise to promote fairness

Regulations coming into force later this year will ensure supply contracts in the dairy sector are fair and transparent, with farmers being paid a fair price for their produce, the government has said today (11th July).

dairy cow in a field

The new regulations will allow farmers to challenge prices, stop contract changes being imposed on farmers without agreement and ensure farmers can raise concerns more easily, the government said.

Farming minister Mark Spencer said: “Farmers must be paid a fair price for their produce and these regulations will provide price certainty and stability for farmers by establishing written milk purchase agreements with clear and unambiguous terms.

“This represents a key milestone in our commitment to promote fairness and transparency across food supply chains to support farmers and build a stronger future for the industry, and will be followed by reviews into the egg and horticulture sector supply chains this autumn.”

The new regulations at a glance:

  • Farmers have clearer pricing terms, with contracts setting out the factors which generate the milk price and allowing farmers to challenge prices if they feel this process isn’t being followed
  • Changes to contracts can’t be imposed on farmers without their agreement, providing stability and trust in the supply chain. This will encourage dialogue between the parties where changes do need to be made
  • Farmers’ contracts will all include a straightforward way to raise concerns about their contracts
  • There will be clear rules put in place on notice periods and contractual exclusivity, protecting the rights of both buyers and sellers
  • An enforcement mechanism is created to guarantee the regulations are followed.

The regulations were described by NFU dairy board chair Michael Oakes as a “significant step forward” in efforts to increase fairness and transparency in the dairy supply chain.

Mr Oakes said the changes will give dairy farmers much-needed business security and confidence, as well as helping to share risk along the dairy supply chain.

“This announcement signals that we are on the right path to building a stronger, more resilient future for the British dairy sector. We will continue to work with the government and wider industry to not only benefit farm businesses and the supply chain, but the millions of people who value access to quality, sustainable, nutritious British milk.”

A Dairy UK spokesperson added: “Dairy UK has always believed that this regulation should strike the right balance between greater transparency and maintaining the flexibility the industry needs to compete in a volatile and increasingly competitive marketplace.

“We’ve appreciated the engagement provided by Defra during the development of the regulation. We look forward to seeing the final SI and to continuing to work with Defra on the implementation of the regulation.”

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