Dairy industry needs renewed focus - UFU

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the dairy industry needs a renewed focus on an unprecedented period of prolonged low milk prices.

This has led to intense cash flow pressures on farms across Northern Ireland, affecting both large and small family farm businesses.

Speaking after a series of meetings with key players in the industry the UFU dairy chairman, Jonathan Moore said: “Action is needed to ensure farmers are in a position to cope with potentially costly challenges this autumn, when feed and other bills begin to pile up again.”

After a meeting with CAFRE, AFBI and the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) it was agreed that there was a need for joint action to tackle the challenges facing the dairy industry. Initiatives will include an information event involving local banks, specifically to deal with how to ease cash flow pressure.

“The UFU also met with farm unions from elsewhere in the UK and agreed to create a UK-wide working group on ways to tackle milk price volatility,” said Mr Moore. He added that the industry has been living with falling dairy prices for nearly 12 months. This has put enormous pressure on farmers, and the UFU is frustrated with the lack of urgency from the European Commission, which has failed to recognise the scale of the problem.

“The extension to the Russian food import ban into 2016 will make matters worse and now is the time for the Commission to review intervention support arrangements,” he said. The UFU are currently preparing a report for the Commission on why this needs to happen.

“Action needs to be taken now to avert what could be a very critical situation when the summer is over and production costs on farms begin to rise again,” said Mr Moore.