Consultation on Contractual relationships in the UK dairy industry

Date published: 29 June 2020

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA is encouraging Northern Ireland stakeholders to respond to a UK-wide consultation on Contractual relationships in the UK dairy industry.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is seeking views from across the UK on how contracts are used within the dairy sector, and on the UK Government’s intention to legislate in this area. You are invited to respond to this consultation and express your views on this issue. Responding to the consultation will ensure that your views are heard by the UK Government in considering whether or not to legislate in this matter in Northern Ireland. 

The consultation is directed at anyone interested in how activities which take place in the dairy sector are regulated. This consultation is of particular interest to you if you are involved in:

  • producing milk for onward sale to a processor; or
  • purchasing milk for processing; or
  • activities associated with the production, sale or processing of milk; or
  • activities for the benefit of the dairy industry.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, said: “I am committed to raising the issue of fairness for Dairy farmers in the marketplace in the strongest possible terms.  I am pleased that NI stakeholders will have the opportunity to take part in this UK-wide consultation and I strongly encourage all NI stakeholders to respond accordingly.”

The consultation and response document can accessed using the following address:

The consultation was launched on 24 June 2020 and will remain open for 12 weeks.

For more information on this consultation and details on how to respond, please visit the DEFRA website:

Notes to editors: 

1. In 2012 a voluntary code of best practice on contractual relationships in the dairy sector was agreed by industry in NI.  It sets out good practice for contracts between producers and purchasers and was agreed to address a number of long standing issues with dairy contracts.  A similar voluntary Code of Practice was introduced in Great Britain however it was thought necessary to have separate Codes in order to recognise significant differences between the dairy supply chains in NI and GB at that time.

2. The UK Government concluded that the voluntary code of best practice was potentially a viable alternative to legislation but reserved the right to review the need for legislation after a reasonable period of time.

3. In 2016 a formal call for evidence was launched to explore the case for extending the remit of the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA). The UK Government’s response to the Groceries Code Adjudicator Call for Evidence (published on 16 February 2018), included a commitment to consult on the introduction of mandatory written contracts.

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