DUP MEP Diane Dodds and Newry and Armagh Assemblyman William Irwin MLA have outlined their thoughts on the current challenges facing dairy farmers, and particularly the need for a healthy supply chain that benefits everyone involved.
Mrs Dodds commented: “Over the past number of weeks I have been out and about doing a number of farming meetings, focusing on a range of issues.
“While many within the agri-food sector would have you believe Brexit is the only issue at play, farmers have expressed real concern over farm gate prices, especially dairy farmers.
“I have seen anger and frustration generated as a result of farm gate prices, particularly in recent weeks, and this is for a number of reasons.
“Farmers have experienced an extremely difficult two years, many producing milk below the cost of production, and the black hole in their finances is becoming wider and deeper.
“Given that the Global Diary Trade auction has seen substantial increases since October, coupled with price rises in Great Britain and a reduction in supply right across Europe, many are rightly asking why these changes are not being experienced to the same degree in Northern Ireland.”
William Irwin MLA added: “As farmers, we are all too aware that we need companies to process our milk and ultimately write the cheque which pays for it.
“However, it is even more important that our processors realise without raw milk they will not have a business.
“Farmers cannot continue to produce milk at a loss, especially when market signals are positive, milk supply is short and global markets are rising.
“The financial health of the entire supply is important, but farmers need their fair share.
“We need to continue to see positive news on base prices and the sooner the better. Businesses cannot continue to produce at a loss.”