The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) have called on the government to take immediate action to prevent a drop in the Northern Ireland farmgate milk price.
The price for dairy commodities has already begun to fall in price in recent days.
Butter prices in the Netherlands has already seen a drop of €500/tonne which means the prices of dairy commodities are back 23% since the start of March. Similarly, skimmed milk powder is down 26% and Mozzarella prices have fallen by 16%.
The UFU stated that this will have an inevitable impact on farmgate milk prices over the coming days, weeks or even months. The organisation wants the government to take measures to counteract the potential impact of this financial downfall.
Its dairy committee held an emergency teleconference in recent days, where they drew up a list of measures that will be submitted to the Government to save the dairy sector from potentially devastating cuts in milk prices.
Commenting on the matter, UFU dairy chairman Mervyn Gordon said, “There is not going to be one single solution or ask that will safeguard our dairy industry from the fall in farmgate milk price. “
“This is why we’re asking for a toolbox of options that will cover the short and long term, ensuring that the local dairy sector has a chance of coming out the other side of this pandemic in a sustainable position.”
The first measure on their list is for the government to ‘top-up’ any individual who experiences a drop in the price of milk. The UFU has told the Government that an immediate injection of cash into dairy farms will be needed.
They also submitted an idea for a government buying scheme, similar to Italy where the Italian Government have temporarily taken struggling products off the market and redistributing them to those in need.
The dairy committee believes that the longer-term tool would be a UK specific intervention scheme. The committee said it would be a UK-funded scheme with products put into store in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for longer life products such as powders and cheese.
Gordon concluded, “Northern Ireland dairy farmers were struggling even before this pandemic hit. The prospect of any drop in price, let alone any prolonged period of low prices will have a devasting impact on our sector if the Government does not act urgently.”