Dairy farmers will soon be asked for their views on the introduction of mandatory milk contracts with minimum standards.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) said the UK and devolved governments were preparing to launch a consultation into the future of milk contracts.
The union’s vice-president, Gary Mitchell, described it as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for the sector.
“This may be more significant than Brexit as 90% of a dairy farmer’s income is directly driven by the terms of their contract rather than support,” said Mr Mitchell.
“The opportunity to be offered by the UK and devolved governments recognises that the dairy supply chain does not represent a balanced, fair reflection of the vital part played by producers.”
He said there was a strong case to be made that an efficient dairy sector could only be achieved by an understanding that all in the supply chain rely on each other and a fair share of risk and reward must be established.
“Discretionary and imposed pricing, volume management and other important terms should not be forced on milk producers without agreement any longer,” added Mr Mitchell.
He said the options in the consultation were likely to be complex but NFUS and its counterparts south of the border believed there was “enormous potential” to develop a UK version of the Common Market Organisation dairy legislation available at an EU level.
“We urge farmers and processors to engage and be open to the logical argument. The unions want to use this initiative as a catalyst,” added Mr Mitchell.
“Once the consultation is launched, we will engage with our members in the months ahead as a priority to explain the options in an open and transparent manner, develop views and articulate these to government and processors. This is a hugely important opportunity and I urge all Scottish dairy farmers to engage.”