The Ulster Farmers’ Union's dairy chairman, Mervyn Gordon, has claimed that if the Winter Fair is an opportunity to reflect on the past year, processors have made it a frustrating 12 months for farmers.
He said this was all the worse, because there is no market justification for the financial pressure farmers face from poor milk prices.
“Dairy processors have refused to engage on prices, citing the threat of a no-deal Brexit as their priority. “
Dairy farmers, however, feel short-changed. Last month, two processors cut the base milk price by 0.25ppl; this was unjustified.”
“Pressed to explain it, one said they needed to make 'savings'. The savings achieved were £150,000 on sales of £15 million – a gain of one per cent, but only achieved at an enormous cost in terms of supplier goodwill,” said Mr Gordon.
'Wise and cynical'
The UFU dairy chairman also warned that farmers were "sufficiently wise and cynical" to see that price cuts had been timed to kick in when winter bonus payments were due to begin.
He outlined farmers are “already suspicious” about how these are calculated, and now can see these are being subsidised from price cuts.
“The time has come for dairy processors to explain what is going on to their producers.”
“Northern Ireland has the second lowest milk price in the EU and our experience over the past 12 months has confirmed that the dairy supply chain is not working.”
“Farmers are taking all the risk while suffering the fallout from unfair trading arrangements,” he concluded.