Dairy farmers take their concerns to Stormont

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Farmers in the Portadown area have joined the Northern Ireland chorus of disapproval about the low price of diary milk.

Protests have been continuing outside major supermarkets across the province.

Aaron Haffey was one of a number of farmers from the area who attended a recent protest at Stormont.

He said, “We are losing a lot of money and it’s hard to pay your bills. Things were better last year and we were able to go out and invest money but it has got worse and worse since then.

“If prices go down it will drive production down and this is affecting more than just the farmers. It’s affecting everybody that feeds off the farms.

“The more protests that take place over the countryside the more likely they are to do something.”

DUP MLA Sydney Anderson, a member of the Stormont Agriculture and Rural Development committee, said dairy farmers have seen their incomes drop by over one-third over the last year.

“The decline this time has been extremely long and hard hitting for farmers. There are a number of factors which have contributed to this current crisis ranging from decreased demand for our milk products from the Chinese economy, the Russian ban on EU imports and the ending of EU milk quotas in April 2015. We are in a situation now where our farmers are struggling to make a living.”

He added, “Farmers appreciate that there is a global problem with regards to the dairy farming industry, but we at home in Northern Ireland need to do all we can to support and assist our local dairy farmers at this really critical moment. Without much needed assistance many of our local dairy farms could end up going into bankruptcy and ultimately many farms could go out of business. It is vital that the Agriculture Minister comes up to the mark and ensures that her department does all they can to aid our farmers in their moment of real need.

We must continue to press the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to increase intervention prices for dairy products as a matter of urgency. Large UK retailers must also step up to the plate by supporting a fair price for dairy farmers’ produce, whilst not acting to the determent of the consumers’ finances. MPs, MLAs, MEPs and society as a whole must stand shoulder to shoulder with our dairy farmers as we fight to see a real resolution to this current crisis.”