Hogan must react to dairy difficulties: Irwin

DUP MLA Willaim Irwin
DUP MLA Willaim Irwin

Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has spoken of his concern at the continuing downward trend in milk prices.

Commenting after the Global Dairy Trade auction on Wednesday, where prices fell a further 10.7%, Mr Irwin said that EU Commissioner Hogan needed to “react in a positive way” to assist dairy producers through what he described as a “deepening crisis”.

Mr Irwin also attended a meeting on Wednesday organised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union where the current dairy crisis was discussed at length with industry representatives, including the banking institutions.

Mr Irwin stated: “Looking at the current trend over the past number of months, dairy farmers have been waiting anxiously for a bottoming out of prices and that simply has not materialised.

“It is certainly a cause for great concern that the latest Global Dairy Trade auction has recorded a drop of 10.7% and that is for contracts for the period September 2015 to January 2016. This isn’t the type of outlook producers had wanted to see and it is causing great concern.

“That significant fall means that producers will be operating at well below the cost of production at a traditionally costly time of year to produce milk and that will be place a huge amount of pressure on farmers during the winter period.”

He added: “Commissioner Hogan has continually said there isn’t a crisis in the dairy sector, however his message is certainly lacking credibility when you look at the situation on the ground.

“Commissioner Hogan is burying his head in the sand in denying the current pressures on producers and it is high time he recognised the mounting pressure on the dairy sector and he should take positive steps to assist our producers.”

He concluded: “It is clear that there are difficult days ahead.”