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UFU Release Dairy Roadmap to Recovery

08 June 2009

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - With dairy farmers continuing to receive farm gate milk cheques below the cost of production, the Ulster Farmers' Union says its proposals are aimed at returning the industry to sustainable and profitable levels.

UFU President Graham Furey said;

“Our Dairy Roadmap is a comprehensive programme of actions which we believe are necessary to create a viable future for local dairy farming. There is no single solution to the problems faced by dairy farmers; the road to recovery will be ‘inch by inch’.

We will be presenting our proposals, which are the result of lengthy discussions and analysis by our dairy farming members and staff; to processors, retailers, Government and all other stakeholders who can play a role in improving the conditions faced by local dairy farmers”.

The UFU has identified four key areas of focus for action: EU dairy policy; the NI auction system; restructuring in the NI dairy processing sector; and farmers’ relationship with retailers.

Key proposals to be pursued by the UFU include:

- EU - Continuing the campaign to make the EU Commission use the market management tools at its disposal to bring the EU market for dairy products back into balance; including extending stable intervention tender prices beyond August and calling on the EU Commission to bring forward to this year its review of the dairy sector and the proposals to end milk quotas in 2015. The UFU says this should be reviewed annually to ensure EU dairy policy is more effectively linked to unfolding market conditions.

- NI Auction - The UFU expressed concern that competitiveness at the NI milk auction has waned with the number of bidders falling from sixteen in 2000 to six in 2009. UFU proposals for change include establishing a benchmark pricing mechanism which would measure the added value component of the NI product mix, including liquid milk, and branded processed product, removing Option Milk from the auction; ensuring the auction reflects the compositional quality of milk on offer; appointing an independent observer to ensure more transparency; and evaluating the potential to change the frequency of the auction;.

- Processing - The UFU calls on processors to step up product innovation, not to rely on trading commodity products at low prices and be stronger in their marketing. We are also participating in the current Dairy UK / NI Competitiveness Study and will be looking for NI Executive support to take the out workings of that study forward.

- Retailers - The Union has called on retailers to sign up to the UK Supermarket Ombudsman; highlighted the need for action to finally deliver country of origin labelling for consumer products; and the UFU will be initiating a series of meetings with retailers to press for better returns for local dairy products which are being retailed.

Graham Furey said; “The status quo in the dairy sector is not an option. The UFU will be working across a range of fronts to deliver essential improvements for dairy producers”.

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