First Milk Chiefs Given MSP Invite

Bosses at the UK's largest dairy firm have been called to Holyrood to account for a proposed cut in payments to farmers which MSPs say is threatening fragile communities in Scotland.

Jim Paice and Mike Gallacher, chairman and chief executive of First Milk, have been asked to appear before Holyrood's Rural Affairs Committee over its plan to introduce "end product pricing'', which MSPs say could lead to a cut in payments to farmers by as much as 1.2p per litre.

In a letter to the First Milk executives, committee convener Rob Gibson said: "The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee in the Scottish Parliament recently held an urgent inquiry into the dairy industry and milk pricing in the face of the problems faced by dairy farmers in Scotland.

"On March 31 2015 the committee also debated the issue in the chamber of the Parliament, which included debate on the Scottish Government's recently published dairy action plan, which adopted many of the recommendations made by the committee in its report.

"The dairy action plan endorsed the action recommended by the committee for tackling the problems faced by First Milk which placed so many Scottish dairy farmers in hardship recently.

"However, the committee is aware that First Milk has recently announced its intention to introduce end product pricing which could see the price being paid to many Scottish dairy farmers, particularly those in our island communities, falling by as much as 1.2p per litre.

"The committee is extremely concerned by these developments and the potential impact these may have on those farming in many of our most fragile communities, and that these may threaten the sustainability and recovery of the dairy industry in Scotland.

"We therefore invite you both to appear before the committee at its meeting on Wednesday May 13 2015, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.''