Growing up on a dairy farm in Dalton, SNP Westminster candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale Emma Harper knows all too well the challenges faced by the industry.
That is why the former nurse educator is today (Tuesday) backing calls for the introduction of a ‘Made in Scotland’ label for Scottish produced dairy products.
The move, put forward by SNP MSP Bruce Crawford and backed by the National Farmers Union Scotland, is recognised in the Scottish Government’s 25 point dairy action plan, launched today. It includes commitments to press Defra to accelerate the timetable for extending Country of Origin Labelling to dairy and will require the UK Government to work with the European Union and the Scottish Government to achieve this.
It comes at a time when dairy farmers across Scotland are facing significant problems due to the falling milk prices with many having to supply processors at less than the cost of production, and supermarkets are selling milk at unsustainable prices.
The changes to labelling would help to boost the dairy industry and motivate milk processors to invest further in Scotland, as well as assisting with consumer understanding of where their food is being produced, and could lead to greater sales of Scottish produce.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“I grew up on a local dairy farm. I have mucked out byres, milked cows and birth calves with my father, who was a dairyman for 50 years, so I know all too well how difficult an industry it can be.
“Dairy farming is such an important part of our rural economy in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale and I want to do all I can to help our dairy farmers capitalise on the worldwide reputation of Scottish food and drink.
“A ‘Made in Scotland’ labelling system would mean consumers know exactly which products are produced locally – I would like to encourage as many people as possible to think Scottish when they are buying their groceries. We have some of the best quality milk, butter, cheeses and yoghurt in the world and choosing local options is a win-win for both consumers and farmers.”
“We need to pressure on the European Commission to introduce labelling regulation which will give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions and support local producers, while also reminding retailers the importance of giving local produce pride of place on their shelves and online stores.”
Notes to editors:
The Scottish Government has today launched its 25 point dairy action plan, which aims to improve resilience of dairy sector. The plan includes a commitment to press Defra to accelerate the timetable for extending Country of Origin Labelling to dairy. This will include holding Defra to the agreement in the Smith Commission to argue for EU recognition of “Made in Scotland”.