Buyers oppose milk shake-up: Privatised marketing board must be better regulated, DTF insists

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The Independent Online
THE DAIRY Trade Federation, which represents buyers of milk from the Milk Marketing Board, yesterday renewed its attack on the Government's plans to shake up the industry.

Jim McMichael-Phillips, chairman of the DTF, said proposals for the replacement of the MMB with a more open system were unacceptable and against the interests of buyers and consumers.

The MMB is being replaced with a voluntary co-operative called Milk Marque, which will provide farmers with a higher price for their milk.

DTF members say the new arrangement would not be sufficiently regulated, and yesterday proposed the creation of a Milk Forum under an independent chairman to set prices and purchasing arrangements.

'Milk Marque has to be supervised,' said Mr McMichael- Phillips. 'This privatised monopoly has to be regulated like the other privatised monopolies that have been created.'

Farmers had criticised the system of milk marketing boards which were involved in formula pricing and priority allocation of milk to big dairies during seasonal shortages.

The new set-up was planned to be in place by May, but in January the Ministry of Agriculture abandoned the date as unrealistic. November was thought to be an alternative. But the DTF's objections means more talks will probably be necessary, perhaps pushing back the date still further.

Mr McMichael-Phillips said: 'Our members are as keen as anyone to put an end to the existing uncertainty, but clearly cannot endorse the scheme as it stands.'