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21 October 2011 | Angeline Albert
The Department for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said the dairy industry should do more to lead its own change. It follows demands that it make milk buyers comply with the European Commission’s procurement proposals.
Defra made its comments in a report published this week in response the Environment, Food and Rural AffairsCommittee's (EFRA) own review. The EFRA report called for Defra to ensure buyers give dairy farmers written contracts that specify the milk price, volume and timing of deliveries in line with EC’s ‘milk package’ proposals.
In its response, Defra said: “The government can take steps to help, but the dairy industry has a significant responsibility for its own future and is far better placed than government to lead change in many respects.”
Defra said work already being done by industry and the government included involvement in the Dairy Supply Chain Forum, which brings those in the dairy supply chain together to discuss sustainable development.
It also highlighted the launch of GovernmentBuying Standards (aimed at driving sustainable procurement among public sector buyers) and its plan to introduce an adjudicator to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, which was introduced last year.
Defra said “it is unclear when the commission milk package will come into force” with it possibly being agreed this autumn or taking longer to complete negotiations with European Parliament.
The department said actions mentioned such as the Dairy Supply Chain Forum are “concrete and proactive and are likely to produce results more quickly than relying on EU regulation”.
In July, the EFRA committee published a report EU proposals for the dairy sector and the future of the dairy industry, which identified problems including confusing pricing, buyers changing prices at short notice or retrospectively and volumes not being specified.