SDLP Leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP and Vice Chair of the Stormont Agriculture Committee Joe Byrne MLA have met with a delegation of farmers to discuss the issues affecting them during the current milk crisis.
Mr Byrne said: “In this unregulated market supply chain, the farmer, as the primary producer, takes the biggest hit when supply outweighs demand as it does currently. The reality is that the Department have talked plenty but have taken little action to resolve the difficult situation that farmers currently find themselves in. Farming policy is largely controlled in Brussels – this crisis will only be solved by cooperation at the highest political level.
“The failure of the Minister to act earlier to protect farmers here has only prolonged the pain that those in the dairy industry feel. A resolution now can be realised through targeted EU intervention measures and baseline threshold price for milk of twenty pence.
“Furthermore, DARD needs to act quickly to provide private storage capacity to store Skimmed Milk Powder, butter and cheese. The Minister has waited too long, talked too much and now needs to take the appropriate action to quell this crisis before it leaves a lasting devastating effect on the dairy industry here,” he added.
Dr Mr McDonnell added: “I have met these farmers and have heard their genuine concerns about the current milk crisis. The SDLP will stand with farmers who are undoubtedly the hardest hit whenever the price of milk falls. I hope that the emergency summit between all of the farming unions in the UK will coordinate a speedy resolution to the dairy crisis.”