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Dairy farmers see red

PROPOSED CHANGES to the Red Tractor dairy assurance scheme are causing alarm to Scotland's already beleaguered dairy farmers.

Such is the furore over the proposals, which could see the introduction of a raft of stringent health and welfare regulations, that a consultation on the move has been extended until the end of February – and the National Farmers Union Scotland is now pushing hard for a wholesale review of the plan.

Union milk committee chairman Garry Mitchell said: "As farmers, we fully support the stated objective of the proposal, which is to raise the welfare standards of dairy cattle.

"However, having discussed the proposed changes at committee level and over numerous phone calls, it is clear that the majority of Scottish farmers believe that this latest initiative is flawed and in its current form must be opposed.

"We will be happy to work with Assured Dairy Farms to make the assurance scheme more effective, but this must be in a genuine collaborative approach rather than what is perceived to be a plan too far down the road to be genuinely collaborative. This consultation is too little too late," he said.

"The proposed change to scheme rules would require farmers to assess the health and wellbeing of the cattle, which we can agree with, but farmers are unhappy that they are being told how to achieve these outcomes. The health planning on dairy farms must remain primarily an issue between farmer, vet and nutrition adviser, who will have developed systems over time that work for them."

(For the full story see The Scottish Farmer this week, February 9, 2013)

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