Union keeping pressure on the milk processors

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Ulster Farmers’ Union dairy chairman, William Irvine, is urging processors to ensure milk price increases reflect stronger global dairy markets. He has warned that they must not use winter bonuses or other payment structures as an alternative to a meaningful increase in the base milk price.

“For the past 18 months farmers have struggled with returns well below the cost of production. After such a deep recession, it will take more than a few price increases to get farm businesses back on track and for farmers to feel ready to plan ahead in a still fragile market,” said Mr Irvine.

The UFU dairy committee recently renewed its call for greater transparency about how prices paid for milk are calculated. It sees this as a policy priority and a potential win, win for farmers and processors because it would build trust and better relations in the industry.

“Back in 2012 the EU Milk Package was launched to strengthen the position of farmers within the supply chain. Four plus years on there is little evidence of that happening here, so we have to find new ways to deliver the greater strength farmers need. More trust between farmers and processors would help create a better and fairer supply chain – and that would benefit all players in the dairy industry,” said Mr Irvine.

The UFU dairy committee has set out a number of key priorities for 2017. These are on top of the continuing drive to secure better milk prices and transparency. These include a review of the 2012 Voluntary Code of Practice, a call for retailers to be open on pricing, more information from processors on their production costs and completion of the dairy industry supply chain review. “In the context of Brexit we will also focus on what outcome would best suit dairy farmers, and on how a risk management approach to supporting the industry might work in practice,” said Mr Irvine.