The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has called on farmers to end their protests against local supermarkets.
The organisation is also urging the DARD Minister, Michelle O’Neill to establish a new forum bringing together wholesalers, retailers, producers, processors and farmers to improve communication and partnership across the supply chain.
During the past week farmers have held a number of protests at supermarkets as the crisis deepens over plunging milk prices.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said:“The issue of milk prices is a European and global challenge, which requires a joint approach from Stormont, Whitehall and Brussels. Locally, DARD need to do more to improve communication and partnership across the entire agri-food supply chain in Northern Ireland.
“Minister O’Neill needs to bring together key players in wholesale, retail, producers, processors and farmers in a new Partnership Forum to address the challenges facing the supply chain.
“In the past retailers are only brought to the discussion table when there is a crisis in the agri-food sector and so we need a new way of proactively working together,” he added.
“The Agri-Food Board also needs a revamp and retail representatives added to their governing body to ensure it is more representative of the supply chain.”