Farmer protests – next stop Brussels

Farmers who took part in the protest
Farmers who took part in the protest

Lobby groups aligned to the European Milk Board protested outside Belfast’s City Hall on Thursday.

Representatives from all the participating organisations confirmed that their actions represent the start of a campaign that will end up at the door of the European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan at some stage over the coming weeks.

“We are campaigning for a fundamental review of the EU’s dairy intervention support measures,” said Farmers for Action’s William Taylor. “And this must happen immediately.”

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman Oliver McMullan confirmed that a party deputation will meet Phil Hogan on this matter on Monday next in Brussels.

“The crisis facing milk producers has reached a critical tipping point.

“I am fully aware of the fact that many local dairy farmers have been to the banks on a number of occasions, seeking additional cash flow injections.

“But this well is about to run dry. Phil Hogan must act now in order to stabilise the economic prospects facing Irish dairy farmers.

“And the only way this can be achieved is through a hike in dairy intervention prices.”

Fair Price for Farmers NI’s Charlie Weir indicated that a significant number of milk producers will be put into liquidation, unless farmgate prices improve quickly.

“This is the reality facing the milk industry at the present time,” he said.

“And if dairy goes to the wall, then beef and other sectors will quickly follow.

“The only resolution to the problem is for Brussels to put a realistic floor in EU dairy markets. And this will only be achieved through a 
hike in dairy intervention prices.”

The 50 or so farmers who took part in Thursday’s protest distributed free milk to members of the general public as they passed by.

The supporting companies were Strathroy Dairies, Farm View Dairies, Lacpatrick Dairies and Drayne’s of Lisburn. Milk not given out was given to local charities.