THE region's dairy farmers are building up pressure on retailers in a bid to win a fair price for their pint.

Cut-price milk over the past few years has seen any profit margins squeezed into losses for the dozens of dairy businesses around the south of Scotland.

A weekend of protests saw farmers and supporters campaign outside many supermarkets.

And pressure is now mounting for a reversal of further planned price cuts due to strike next month.

Stow farmer Nigel Miller, who is president of the National Famers Union, said: "Work with retailers and processors to reverse cuts in milk prices will be ramped up in the coming days as we seek to ensure that all dairy farmers - whether they are producing for fresh milk or dairy product markets - will receive a price that reflects the true worth of the milk.

"It is a clear reflection of the anger and frustration being felt at farm level that so many Scottish dairy farmers have already taken the time to discuss their plight face-to-face with consumers and having their backing has been gratifying. "They want fresh local milk and dairy products in stores and fully accept that those doing the graft in looking after and milking their cows deserve a fair price.

"Dairy farmers are ill served by existing contractual arrangements with their milk buyers and today's meeting in Wales saw headline terms of agreement for a code of practice for the sector laid out. These terms, looking at areas like exclusivity, termination and pricing, will now go forward to be negotiated in detail in August with, at our insistence, a facilitator aiding the process.

"Importantly, politicians have recognised that should the code fail to deliver much-needed stability and sustainability to producers, then legislation in this area will be considered." The fight against milk price cuts is UK-wide. At the Royal Welsh Show, currently underway at Builth Wells, dairy farmer representatives have pledged to keep up the pressure for both planned price cuts and those already in place to be scrapped. At the same time, progress on a code of conduct for the sector has been made. Headline terms of reference for the code will form the basis for further negotiations to take place in August, with NFUS insisting on an independent facilitator for those discussions. At the Welsh event, politicians agreed that should the voluntary code fail, then legislation will be necessary.

NFU Scotland is calling all Scottish dairy farmers to a meeting in Lanark Auction Mart on Monday, July 30, to update them on progress with prices, the code and routes to collaboration. The meeting will help establish what further action Scottish dairy farmers want to undertake.