SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has raised the issue of falling dairy prices in the House of Commons during Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions.
Ms Ritchie outlined the urgent need for the EU intervention threshold to be reviewed and increased to reflect the reality of the situation facing farmers.
She said: “The EU intervention threshold is designed to protect farmers if prices fall below a certain level, but the current rate was set at 18 pence per litre in 2003 and does not reflect the reality of production costs in 2014.
“The situation for Northern Ireland dairy farmers is extremely difficult at the moment, there has been a 3.4% drop in prices over the past two months alone and with prices now at 26ppl – below the break-even cost of 28ppl – farmers are having to pay more for the production of milk than they get in return.
“Across the dairy industry, farmers are suffering from this sudden shock to the market as prices fall. This trend cannot continue and urgent action is needed to intervene before the dairy industry gets deeper into crisis.”
She added: “At EFRA Questions I raised the need for this EU intervention threshold rate, which is over a decade old, to be reviewed and increased to reflect the reality of the difficult circumstances that farmers find themselves in.
“I welcome the fact the minister stated DEFRA is looking at the intervention issue – I believe it is vital that this EU intervention threshold rate is increased to protect the livelihood of dairy farmers, especially in Northern Ireland where we facing the worst effects of the recent market volatility.”