Tynwald statement after serious flaws in the Isle of Man's dairy industry

Friday 14th January 2022 10:00 am
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Clare Barber MHK ()

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New Agriculture Minister Clare Barber will make a statement in Tynwald next week about the regulation and quality of cows’ milk.

This follows a critical scrutiny committee report which highlighted serious flaws in the regulation of the island’s dairy industry.

Mrs Barber chaired that inquiry by the environment and infrastructure policy review committee whose report her predecessor as minister, Geoffrey Boot, had tried to prevent being published.

The report concluded that a new model is needed to regulate the £13.6m dairy industry.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture came in for criticism for being both the regulator and promoter of food, a situation that could potentially allow producers who repeatedly fail quality tests to continue without the threat of serious action.

The committee also argued for the introduction, as soon as possible, of a rating system for all producers.

And it called for an improved testing regime for producer-retailers, with all milk samples collected unannounced.

Several sections of the report were redacted on the grounds of commercial sensitivity and Minister Boot had requested that the report not be published as aspects of it related to a case that was due to go to arbitration.

The committee inquiry began following an approach by Daphne Caine MHK on behalf of the Milk Marketing Association and Isle of Man Creamery with concerns about the safety and quality of milk being produced by Aalin Dairy, one of two small dairies that sell milk directly to consumers.

Those concerns were relayed to the then minister and DEFA officials who assured the committee that they did not have serious concerns about Aalin Dairy’s products.

Aalin requested their case go to arbitration.

The committee report does not focus on any failings by individual producers but looks instead at broader issues with the policy framework for the regulation of the safety and quality of cows’ milk.

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