Unions call for crisis summit as concerns grow over low pricing

Protesters at Tesco stopped a Dale Farm delivery of milk from entering the Coleraine store on Monday Evening. They were also protesting about the quantity of New Zealand Lamb that is on the shelves in the store as well. PICTURE: STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Protesters at Tesco stopped a Dale Farm delivery of milk from entering the Coleraine store on Monday Evening. They were also protesting about the quantity of New Zealand Lamb that is on the shelves in the store as well. PICTURE: STEVEN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
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An urgent summit has been called by the UK’s farming unions to discuss the major problems facing the industry.

Top of the agenda will be the crisis in the livestock and dairy sectors where many farmers are on the brink of financial devastation with falling prices which have seen many farmers paid less than the cost of production.

Falling milk and lamb prices have left many farmers desperately worried about their future.

In recent weeks there have been convoys of tractors carrying out rolling roadblocks on the A50 in Staffordshire and Derbyshire while hundreds of farmers have been demonstrating outside retailers’ depots and supermarkets across Northern Ireland.

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Ian Marshall said: “This is a multi-factorial problem across the entire industry both sectorally and geographically for which there is no single solution. But it is essential that everyone in Government and the supply chain plays their part in helping to urgently address these genuine and serious difficulties. The understandable frustration of farmers is starting to spill over into actions that no one wants.”

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The situation many of our members are experiencing has become a crisis. In dairy, many milk producers have seen price cut after price cut. It’s simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they’re selling it at a loss. The plight of many farmers has become desperately serious and with no sign that things will improve, we really need urgent action from retailers, the food service sector and processors to show commitment to British dairy farmers. I also want to see Government agencies doing more to support the public procurement of British food.

“For many lamb producers too, they need evidence that supermarkets will back British farming and give British lamb pride of place on the supermarket shelves.

“British lamb is in its prime right now and I, personally, find it very concerning that some retailers are continuing to promote New Zealand lamb when we have prime lamb, in season, on our doorstep.

“Now is the time for a united front, so it’s important the UK farming unions stand together to call for a commitment to back British farming.”