The Ulster Farmers’ Union has met with the presidents of the four UK farming unions and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss, to outline the difficulties facing farmers in Northern Ireland.
“The meeting with the presidents of the four farming unions was an opportunity for us to collectively look at what needs to be done in order to address the difficulties facing all farmers,” said UFU president Ian Marshall.
“By coming together and working as one voice we hope to co-ordinate activity to help those sectors that are suffering. We identified that on farm profitability and immediate cash flow remains the main issue and it was clear from those involved that something needs to change.”
The outcome from the meeting called for action from Government to admit that something has gone fundamentally wrong in the supply chain and take helpful action. Government needs to take action to ensure that contracts to all farmers are longer-term and fairer in apportioning risk and reward.
At the moment in many contracts all the risk is put on the farmer with very little of the reward. Government also needs to urgently ensure that rules are put in place regarding labelling so that it is clear and obvious which products are imported and which are British.
“We have also called on retailers to stop devaluing fresh food purely to get customers through the door. Start demonstrating right now how you are ensuring that ALL the food you are selling comes from a farm which has been paid a fair price,” said Mr Marshall.
“The meeting with Liz Truss was an opportunity for us to put forward that Northern Ireland dairy farmers find themselves in a unique situation in comparison to our GB counterparts and that the entire industry is in a crisis situation,” he said.
At the meeting the president outlined the need for the UK government to press the European Commission to review the intervention price for dairy products.
Next week, the UFU will take part in a wider agriculture industry meeting with all the UK agriculture ministers. This meeting has been arranged specifically to address the cash flow and profitability issues facing all farmers. This is not just a dairy issue but rather an issue that is affecting the entire farming industry across all enterprises.
The UFU will also participate in a demonstration in Brussels which will coincide with an extraordinary meeting of the EU Agricultural Council (7 September).