Speaking in this afternoon’s debate on the inquiry into the dairy industry, conducted by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said:
“I congratulate my fellow Committee members and the Committee clerks for their work in the inquiry and I welcome the Scottish Government’s Dairy Action Plan, published earlier this month, which accepted all of our recommendations. I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Government is committed to innovation in the industry and the development of a Scottish dairy brand, to be launched in October.
“However, it is imperative that action is taken now to sustain dairy production in Bute and Kintyre, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Campbeltown creamery. The investment package for Campbeltown creamery of £450,000, confirmed by the Cabinet Secretary in today’s debate, is of great importance and needs to be spent on the creamery as quickly as possible. The Scottish Government must also introduce the ferry concession requested by Bute dairy farmers, and backed by NFUS. All these things need to happen sooner, rather than later.
“Time is not on the side of those who are receiving a payment per litre that is almost 10p below the actual cost of production. Whilst that is likely to change if the world price rises later this year, as is predicted, there also needs to be substantive structural change in the dairy sector in Scotland, if a long-term future is to be guaranteed.
“In that regard, Scotland needs to innovate by bringing new dairy products to market and build upon the strong Scottish brand name to secure new opportunities. The proposals in the Government’s Dairy Plan on these matters are very important, as is the work of Scottish Dairy Entrepreneurs such as the Graham family.
“I will of course continue to do everything I can to help dairy farmers in my constituency and I look forward to attending the launch of the ‘Kintyre Cheese, Yes Please’ campaign next Tuesday, which is being supported by NFUS and the Co-op.”