Jean Urquhart MSP has highlighted the additional strains faced by dairy farmers in Shetland as a result of the current dispute over milk costs.
The Highlands and Islands MSP spoke with some involved in the industry during her visit to Shetland last week. Commenting on their difficulties, Jean Urquhart said:
“Shetland’s dairy farmers produce a high quality product for which they deserve a fair price. The cut of two pence per litre of milk due to be introduced in August will leave farmers at a loss a situation that is wholly unsustainable.
“Although this issue is hurting farmers across Scotland, those dairy farmers in Shetland are particularly affected as it is not practical for them to export their milk.
“I believe the loss of Shetland’s dairy industry would be absolutely devastating both socially and economically, and would lead to increased transport costs and environmental damage due to the need for more imports.
“A reliance on imported milk could prove problematic in many ways, and at some point may leave the island without supplies if it ever came to depending on it totally.
“It also makes a nonsense of trying to reduce food miles and attempts to combat climate change when the islands already meet their own demand.
“It is essential that the coalition Government act decisively and increase pressure on the major retailers to recognise the critical nature of this current situation.
“In my role as Highlands and Islands MSP, I will be seeking to support local dairy farmers as best as I can, and will work with my colleagues in the Scottish Government to save an industry that forms an essential part of Shetland’s social and economic fabric.”
“I will also be writing to the relevant retailers to better understand their thinking with regard to the pricing of milk and the importing of milk, not only in Shetland but across the region.”