UFU says milk price drop is indefensible

Monday, 18 November, 2019

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has condemned local dairy processors for cutting the base milk price and says it is bewildered by their decision to do so.

Speaking after the price decrease was confirmed, UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said, “We have issued eight press releases since January voicing our concern at the pricing policy of local dairy processors and these have been met with appalling apathy. Local processors have ignored dairy commodity indicators and instead used Brexit as an excuse not to pay the true price for milk, leaving farmers angry and frustrated.”

In August the UFU highlighted the 1.5p per litre gap between Northern Ireland and Great Britain milk prices, which has since increased.

“The latest government statistics show that the difference between milk prices in NI and GB is now over 3p per litre, which is scandalous. The reality is, many dairy farmers are struggling to cover their overheads, specifically animal feed bills. Meal companies are reportedly carrying an increased level of debt with clients including some of our members, and this is a hidden cost that cannot be overlooked during these challenging times. This milk price drop is a further kick in the teeth for our dairy farmers and is having a serious impact on family-run farming businesses. 

“The two dairy processors who have cut milk prices, need to explain the reason for their decision to their producers. The UFU is unable to understand the logic behind their reduction and winter bonuses must not be used to hide any drip-reduction in the base price especially when key dairy commodity prices are rising. If dairy processors are paying their producers on the back of what a balance sheet is dictating rather than the market price, it is a damning indication that the milk price calculator in Northern Ireland is beyond repair,” said Mr Chestnutt.