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Financially crippled farmers donate milk, beef and lamb to Tesco food bank

By Chris McCullough

Published 08/08/2015

Farmers from the Coleraine and Ballymoney who each donated money to buy food for the local Trussell Trust Food Bank
Farmers from the Coleraine and Ballymoney who each donated money to buy food for the local Trussell Trust Food Bank

Farmers who claim they are being crippled financially themselves with low commodity prices, have dug deep to buy groceries to donate to a local food bank.

The bold move came during the farmers' protest in Coleraine last night when they turned up in numbers at a Tesco store highlighting the poor prices they are currently receiving for their produce.

Rather than blockading the store as in previous protests, a change in tactics saw the farmers buying milk, beef and lamb - produce which has seen its price drop considerably over the past few months.

The goods were then donated to local food banks to support those who cannot afford food for themselves.

Ironically, some farmers are having to visit the same food banks to feed their families, such is the crisis on Northern Ireland farms.

Castlerock dairy farmer James Magee said over 100 people turned up to protest and support the food bank with donations.

He said: "We are continuing with the Coleraine protests to further highlight this crisis which does not just affect dairy farmers but those in all sectors of the industry.

"The majority of the general public is on our side as we have found out from our peaceful protests so far.

"To do something that little bit different we asked everyone at the protest to donate money so we could buy beef, lamb and milk with it.

"Farmers are being hammered with low prices for these products so we wanted to buy as much as we could and donate them to food banks.

"Indeed, the situation has got so bad on some farms that they, too, are relying on food banks to feed their families.

"We need to maintain the protests to let the public know exactly what is going on."

Protests have been stepped up in other areas of Northern Ireland as well as in the rest of the UK and also in the Republic of Ireland.

The protests at supermarkets stemmed from a big protest at Stormont just a week ago when over 200 farmers gathered to highlight low milk prices to politicians.

An emergency meeting of Stormont's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee was set up on the same day following a call from four farmers in the Banbridge area who felt no one was helping farmers in the country.

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