Farmers across Northern Ireland have reacted with anger and frustration at Dale Farm’s insistence that it can take even more milk at a time when producers are being asked to consider reducing their output to avail of a voluntary reduction scheme.
In Saturday’s Farming Life, Dale Farm said it wanted all the milk its membership can produce pointing to substantial investment in processing capacity including its state-of-the-art cheese and whey facilities.
Farmers, however, were quick to vent their frustrations.
One farmer who contacted Farming Life said: “I felt aggrieved when I picked up the paper on Saturday and saw Dale Farm calling for more milk.
“If they paid the farmer a better price for the milk, they would get all they need.
“Every processor here has spent millions of pounds on their businesses while farmers are borrowing money just to keep going.
“Every dairy farmer in the country will tell you the exact same - it’s a disgrace - farmers are on their knees,” he added.
The Co Tyrone man, who has been a dairy farmer for 40 years, said he had never experienced anything like the troubles of recent times.
“I can’t understand it. The farmers are running around like headless chickens trying to cut costs and make ends meet,” he said.
“If every farmer stopped sending their milk for a week it would certainly waken the processors up.”
Speaking of his situation, the farmer said: “We have had to borrow money to keep the business going over the last two years and we are not alone in doing that.
“This is as bad as I have known it and it’s a bad time that’s going on too long. Every one of us is under pressure.
“It is an awful thing that a man works all his life but could have the rug pulled out from under him at any time. We are under pressure from every direction,” he added.
Farming Life’s Facebook page also attracted comments on the issue.
Andrew Reid posted: “I think it’s a bit of shameless cheek to be calling for more milk not long after telling us it was mindless overproduction from us that was doing the damage. I’d be in the notion of doing a 100% reduction scheme.”
John Armstrong said: “They have some neck on them calling for more milk, when they have cut the dairy farmers’ throats this past 18 months with giving them 17p per litre.”
Michael McAloon commented: “Maybe if they paid a reasonable price for the stuff they’d get what they need.”
Jimmy Reid posted: “All they are worried about is having to pay a price for milk!!”
Pam Shanks added: “More positive advertising might make sales increase.”