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UFU in Brussels Dairy Sector Action

29 June 2009

IRELAND - Speaking from Brussels, following a meeting of European farm leaders, Ulster Farmers’ Union President Graham Furey said that milk producers right across Europe are in dire need of stronger action from the European Commission to support the dairy sector.

Graham Furey said: “Northern Ireland dairy farmers are being particularly badly affected by the difficult economic trading conditions for dairy products. We are taking every possible opportunity to raise the plight of our dairy farmers to the European Commission.

We were in Luxembourg on Monday when 5,000 farmers from across Europe demonstrated outside the meeting of European Agriculture Ministers and we are working with COPA to highlight as forcefully as we can the urgent need for action”.

“The EU Commission are starting to get the message; they have offered the option to bring forward a 70% advance payment on the Single Farm Payment and they have increased export refunds twice in recent weeks.

"We estimate that this has boosted the value of milk powders by about 0.75 pence per litre. This is a small step in the right direction but our message to the Commission is that much more needs to be done to end the crisis in the sector”.

Graham Furey added: “The UFU has tabled a Roadmap to Recovery Plan and we are committed to lobbying forcefully on every aspect of that document. It won’t simply be a Report which is published and then filed away; we are determined to carry through on the wide range of issues which the Roadmap has highlighted. The Roadmap calls for change in the way we do business with processors and retailers and we have begun the process of raising our proposals directly with the rest of the dairy supply chain.

"One area which we focused on is the need for change in the Northern Ireland milk auction system and changes to recognize the compositional quality of milk at the auction are now being progressed at the auction. The crisis in the dairy sector dominated discussions at the UFU Executive Committee earlier this week.

"The UFU leadership team is clear in its determination to do all we can to bring about an improvement in the conditions facing dairy farmers across Northern Ireland”.

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