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Farmers set to stage street protest over milk prices

By Chris McCullough

Published 10/11/2015

Dairy farmers staged a protest at Stormont back in July
Dairy farmers staged a protest at Stormont back in July

Disgruntled dairy farmers in Northern Ireland are set to bring a new wave of protest action onto Belfast's streets this week over continued poor milk prices.

This Thursday will see farmers in Northern Ireland and fellow dairy farmers across Europe unite for a day of protest.

Fair Price Farming NI is encouraging as many farmers as possible to attend the Northern Ireland protest this Thursday at noon outside City Hall in Belfast. Milk will be handed out at the City Hall to families and the elderly to help highlight the pressures the farmers are under.

Milk prices have continued to tumble recently and even with a recent bonus price announced by United Dairy Farmers, the average price paid to local dairy farmers is around 19.5p a litre.

"Even with that bonus farmers are losing money," said Charlie Weir, chairman of Fair Price Farming NI.

"There was a glimpse of hope a couple of months ago when auction prices in New Zealand started to improve but it has all fallen again leaving us in despair.

"There is no way we can sustain milking cows at a loss. Indeed, some larger dairy farmers are now in some sort of administration where the banks are in control of their farms.

"We now need more urgent support from our own politicians to fight for us in whatever capacity they can. There are over 100,000 jobs at risk.

"What are our politicians doing to help us? Other European countries are helping their own farmers stay in business but what is our government doing for us?"

Thousands of dairy farmers across Europe are expected to take part in rallies led by the European Milk Board (EMB) all on the same day.

The EMB, which is a federation of European dairy farmers and farmers' lobbies, said the protests will send a strong message to the European Commission ahead of its Agriculture Council meeting, being held in Brussels on November 16 and 17.

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