Sugden supporting dairy farmers

Claire Sugden MLA
Claire Sugden MLA

A Coleraine MLA says dairy farmers deserve to get a fair price for milk.

Claire Sugden said fully supports local farmers in the current dairy crisis.

She told the Times: “I am fully supportive of the farmers who protested in Coleraine, and across Northern Ireland, this week in the midst of a milk market crisis.

“Large supermarkets who can afford to pay local farmers for the milk that they produce, are driving down milk prices and putting dairy farms out of business.

“Market volatility has been a concern which I have been discussing with The Agriculture Minister for months. The Minister says she is encouraging efficient production, business management and prudent spending, yet market volatility is unpredictable and these measures can only go so far.”

Ms Sugden said that the Ulster Farmers Union are right to seek intervention from the Prime Minster, and to call for the European Agriculture Commissioner to review the EU intervention price of 16 pence per litre.

“This has not been reviewed since 2008, and at the moment average production costs in Northern Ireland are around 26.5 pence a litre,” she added.

“The Minister has told me that discussions around prices are between individual milk purchasers and producers. I urge the Department to encourage supermarkets to support our farmers, and to give them a fair price for their products.

“The industry needs to be resilient to cope with the unpredictability of the dairy market. It needs better integration along the supply chain and robust protection against risk. The Executive and UK Government must lead on this.

“I want to be able to buy locally sourced milk and so do my constituents. I call on all of the local supermarkets to work with farmers to come to a reasonable solution. I will be writing to each supermarket to encourage this.”