On-farm milk vending machine reconnects farmers with the public

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed the decision to allow suppliers to sell a small proportion of their milk through on-farm vending machines.

It delivers a new opportunity for many dairy farmers who wish to diversify into this area and will shorten the farm to fork chain.

UFU deputy president David Brown, pictured, said: “It is good news for the Northern Ireland (NI) dairy industry to see a growing number of suppliers selling milk through vending machines. A recent report conducted by NFU Mutual showed that one fifth of farmers were planning to diversify after the United Kingdom left the European Union and many of our dairy farmers had already begun to invest in the milk vending machine route.”

The potential goes beyond milk vending machines as farmers will now be able to sell a fraction of their own milk to artisan butter and cheese producers if they wish to do so. In the UFU’s recent response to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on milk contracts, it called for this to be permitted in the terms of any agreement.

Mr Brown said giving farmers the ability to sell their milk on-farm will improve the public’s interaction with agriculture.

“As the years have progressed the strong link between farmers and consumers has lessened greatly. There are many who don’t fully understand where their food comes from or how it is produced. Milk in a bottle isn’t a natural form and a significant part of the food chain has already been completed by the time milk arrives in store and placed on the shelf for sale. By allowing farmers to diversify and have an on-farm vending machine, we are encouraging consumers to come on-farm, engage with farmers and see where their milk comes from. In turn creating a better appreciation of our world leading standards and the local produce we have right on our doorstep,” said Mr Brown.