Farming minister Victoria Prentis MP used a virtual Dairy-Tech Online webinar last week to announce that a new statutory Code of Conduct is to be developed for the dairy sector. It aims to increase fairness in the supply chain and help farmers become more competitive.

Ms Prentis said that the Government is to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to develop the new statutory Code of Conduct, using section 29 of the Agriculture Act 2020. The move is in response to last year’s consultation that sought views from dairy farmers and processors across the UK on how contracts and relationships could be improved.

The minister said the new code will provide a guiding framework and will establish minimum standards but will also offer businesses the flexibility to adapt contracts to their individual circumstances. She suggested there would be further engagement with the industry to develop specific standards.

The RABDF pointed out that evidence from industry consultations indicates that unfairness in the supply chain has sometimes been caused by milk buyers having the power to set and modify the terms of a contract, often with little notification. This has led to uncertainty and ambiguity that can be unfair to dairy farming businesses. Ms Prentis responded that the new Code of Conduct would crack down on unfair practices within the supply chain.

“Increasing fairness in the dairy supply chain is paramount,” commented RABDF chairman Peter Alvis. “The statutory Code of Conduct is a positive and necessary step in ensuring farmers can sign contracts that are fair and provide them with much needed stability.”