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Northern Ireland dairy farm crisis sees Stormont committee recalled for talks

Stress in the farming community is reportedly resulting in marital break-ups, mental health problems and suicides

By Staff Reporter

Published 28/07/2015

Dairy farmers have been hit by rising supply and falling demand
Dairy farmers have been hit by rising supply and falling demand

Northern Ireland's dairy farmers are at breaking point, MLAs have been warned at an emergency meeting.

The Assembly's agriculture committee is being recalled from Stormont's two-month summer recess to tackle the growing crisis.

More than 50 dairy farmers from across the Province went to Jonny Matthews' farm in Donaghcloney yesterday to directly address MLAs and urge them to take action.

The DUP's Edwin Poots said they heard about the impact of the ongoing depressed prices being paid to farmers for their produce, with many family-run farms facing going out of business.

Afterwards, Mr Matthews said: "The time has come to fight back before we lose the fight."

For many months farmgate prices here have been below the UK average with many farmers being forced to sell milk off cheaply to keep their businesses solvent.

Politicians have been told increasing stress levels on the farming community is resulting in marital break-ups, mental health problems and suicides.

And they have been warned stress in the farming community is at a high level, endangering social cohesion particularly in rural areas.

Ahead of the committee meeting this Thursday, UUP member Jo-Anne Dobson said: "Farmers cannot be expected to continue to receive below production prices for their produce."

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