The future direction of the Scottish dairy sector will be debated at next weeks AgriScot event, being staged on Wednesday 19 November at Ingliston, near Edinburgh.

With both farmgate prices and dairy commodity values on a severe downturn, this high-level seminar will look at the opportunities and the challenges dairy farmers and processors are facing – both now and in the future.

Given the ongoing volatility in dairy prices, the debate will look at the importance of the recommendations contained within the Scottish Dairy Review entitled ‘Ambition 2025’, commissioned by Scottish Government and completed in 2013.

The report’s author and Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers will be joined on the platform at AgriScot by Paul Grant, inaugural Chairman of the Scottish Dairy Growth Board and Stuart Martin, manager of the producer-facing Scottish Dairy Hub – a joint venture between Scottish Government and the levy body DairyCo. Mr Withers will explain the context, rational and ongoing relevance of the Review; Mr Grant will discuss efforts to add value to Scottish dairy products and Mr Martin will explain his role in providing assistance to Scottish dairy farmers. The establishment of the dairy growth board and the hub were both recommendations included in the Scottish Dairy Review.

NFU Scotland’s Milk Committee Chairman, Gary Mitchell, who will chair the session said:

“With farmgate and commodity prices crashing from the historic highs of recent times, a seminar that looks at how we build a more robust and successful Scottish dairy sector could not be timelier.

“Since 2007, dairy product values have risen significantly but without Scottish dairy farmers or processors ever fully making the most of the potential offered.

“Now that prices are falling, the negative consequence of a global dairy trade is highly volatile prices and challenging costs for the entire dairy supply chain. Dairy is now highly and irrevocably globalised and small changes in supply and demand have huge impacts on dairy farmers, as well as processors.

“The 2009 crash in dairy prices resulted in European farmer unrest and the EU Dairy Package. In 2012, mass demonstration by dairy farmers across the UK sparked the completion of the voluntary Code on milk contracts and, in Scotland, the Cabinet Secretary commissioned the Scottish Dairy Review.

“The work in 2012 galvanised producers, and forced processors, retailers, and politicians to address the concerns of the dairy sector. This seminar, the NFU Scotland dairy farmer survey and our ongoing dialogue with milk processors will help establish what work is needed in 2014 to get the Scottish dairy sector back on track.”