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NI Dairy Crisis Deepens

22 May 2009

ULSTER, UK - Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President and Ballymoney milk producer John Thompson says the crisis in the Northern Ireland sector is deepening. He was responding to the results of this weeks milk auction, where 47 million litres of milk sold for an average of 19.22 pence per litre.

John Thompson said; “Milk auction prices are well short of the returns needed to restore profitability on local dairy farms. The auction price has risen by only a tiny fraction, 0.07 pence per litre, compared to last month; and prices are down over 20per cent on last year. At least milk auction prices have stabilised but the reality is that dairy farmers are enduring a very serious sustained loss making situation”.

The UFU says persistent bad weather is compounding the problems faced by producers. John Thompson said; “On many dairy farms cows are being re-housed and silage cutting has been postponed because ground conditions are so bad. This is driving up farmers costs because they are having to source fodder to feed cattle which should have been grazing outdoors. The delay in silage making will also inevitably affect the quality of silage available for next winter and milk yields on farms could suffer as a result. The weather is making a bad situation worse for producers”.

John Thompson said the milk auction was still failing to generate an appropriate premium for the range of products marketed by Northern Ireland milk processors. He said; “When I speak to producers they are desperately disappointed and frustrated with the milk auction prices. The UFU will continue to challenge processors to market our product aggressively. There are value added markets such as liquid milk but the auction price has remained very depressed. Supermarkets also have a role to play. They are making enormous profits, in stark contrast to the milk producers who are supplying the dairy products on their shelves. We must find a way to ensure producers get a fair share of the returns from the dairy supply chain. We will also continue to lobby the EU Commission to use the market management tools at their disposal to bring more stability to our market”.

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