Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.


It has been a challenging few months for farmers here in the Borders with the extreme weather putting pressure on feed and bedding supplies and causing untold damage to crops and disruption to livestock. We have also heard the worrying news that processors are aggressively cutting the price they pay to our dairy farmers at the farm gate. These cuts are extremely disappointing because they appear to fly in the face of rising prices in global markets and mean that many farmers are making a loss on every litre of milk they produce.

As Borders MP I have long-campaigned for fair prices for our farmers and last week I met with the NFUS President Nigel Miller to discuss how we can work together to tackle this issue which is damaging farm businesses here in Berwickshire. During our meeting, we discussed the work the Government is doing to promote a code of practice on contracts between dairy farmers and purchasers to end this situation where processors are able cut prices at will. We also agreed on the importance of the Grocery Code Adjudicator to be introduced this Parliament to ensure that large retailers treat producers fairly and abide by the Grocery Supply Code of Practice.

Increasing farmers’ negotiating power on contracts is also crucial and Nigel and I discussed Government moves to enable farmers to establish Producer Organisations in accordance with the EU Dairy Package. These are all important measures which the Government and the NFUS are working on to fight for a fair deal for farmers across the UK and I assured Nigel that I will continue to work with him and DEFRA to this end.


Last week I was pleased to hear news that Farepak customers and agents in Berwickshire will receive around 50% of the money they lost when the company went bust in 2006. Nearly 400 Borderers were affected by the collapse of the Christmas savings company with many losing hundreds of pounds. At the time, customers received only 17.5% compensation from the Farepak Response Fund charity but liquidators BDO confirmed last week that an additional payment of about 32% will be made at the end of August.

I want to urge those who were affected to ensure they receive the compensation they are due. Anyone who has changed their address since the collapse should also inform the Farepak claims management team to make sure they don’t miss out.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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