UFU challenges Lakeland decision to cut milk base price

Wednesday, 13 March, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has challenged the decision by Lakeland to reduce their February milk base price in Northern Ireland, while holding the base price in the Republic of Ireland. UFU dairy chairman, William Irvine says the cross-border processor is acting against its basic co-op principles. “Lakeland has chosen to keep prices stable in ROI. This suggests they are confident in the market. Why then reduce the base price in NI? Surely as a co-operative, Lakeland has a duty to its members to pay them fairly.”

The UFU follows national and global market trends closely and is confused by the Lakeland move. “All signs are that markets are good and prices should remain stable. While some views may vary over market forecasts, there is no case to suggest a downturn, something all processors should be mindful of,” said Mr Irvine.

It has been a costly winter for farmers and the UFU says any processor tempted to follow Lakeland to cut milk base price should think again. Mr Irvine said, “Overheads have increased this winter. Dairy farmers need a stable and fair price for the milk they produce, especially when the markets are positive. Margins are tight on farms at the moment and cash flows are stretched. Processors should be mindful of this.”

Mr Irvine says the timing of Lakeland’s base price cut is not good, particularly as it comes not long after the recent Lakeland/Lac Patrick merger. “It is disappointing Lakeland are choosing to treat NI farmers different from their ROI counterparts. We want to see this merger getting off on the right foot, however, this is not a good start,” said Mr Irvine.