Tom Elliott, the Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has called for a combined action from the EU, the UK Government and Stormont Executive to halt plummeting milk prices. The Stormont Agriculture Committee was recalled on Thursday 30 July 2015. Scores of farmers took part in a protest at Stormont emphasising their sincere concern at the ongoing dairy crisis.
Mr Elliott, who attended the event yesterday, highlighted that almost all agricultural sectors in Northern Ireland are in difficulty.
Mr Elliott stated:
“I understand that many sectors in Northern Ireland are in extreme uncertainty, however the dairy industry is in its worst possible crisis.
“A number of factors have contributed to the plummeting milk price such as China’s stuttering market and Russia’s decision to stop buying EU products.
“Locally the intense competition among supermarkets is also having an effect. It has been reported that in some supermarkets you can now buy four pints of milk for just 89p."
“Milk prices are 19p a litre at the moment, well below the cost of production and there is no sign of an improvement. Whilst the costs of farm materials, fertilisers and feed stuff have been rising, milk prices have been steadily decreasing. Many farmers are running at a loss, unable to cover the cost of production.
“The logic is simple, on average it costs around 26p for farmers to produce a litre of milk, yet most farmers are being paid less than 20p. It is evident that farmers need around 27p a litre to break even.
“In the past three weeks I have corresponded with Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the Westminster EFRA Committee and Liz Truss, Secretary of State for EFRA. I have invited both of these representatives over to Northern Ireland to meet farmers so that they understand their genuine concern and plight in regards to the falling milk prices.”
Mr Elliott concluded by highlighting the possibility of having an increased intervention price for milk:
“The EU and our own Government must explore the possibility of having an increased intervention base milk price or export refunds in order to protect the industry. That is why I repeat the need for a combined effort from Brussels, the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to take on the Dairy crisis.”