Allowing suppliers to sell a small proportion of their milk through on-farm vending machines is creating opportunity for dairy farmers to diversify, as well as shortening the farm-to-fork chain, says Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
“It is good news for the Northern Ireland dairy industry to see a growing number of suppliers selling milk through vending machines,” said David Brown, deputy president, UFU. “A recent report conducted by NFU Mutual showed that one fifth of farmers were planning to diversify after the United Kingdom left the European Union and many of our dairy farmers had already begun to invest in the milk vending machine route.”
Farmers will also now be able to sell a fraction of their own milk to artisan butter and cheese producers if they wish to do so; a service UFU had requested in its recent response to a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on milk contracts.
“As the years have progressed the strong link between farmers and consumers has lessened greatly,” said Brown. “There are many who don’t fully understand where their food comes from or how it is produced.
“Milk in a bottle isn’t a natural form and a significant part of the food chain has already been completed by the time milk arrives in store and placed on the shelf for sale.
“By allowing farmers to diversify and have an on-farm vending machine, we are encouraging consumers to come on-farm, engage with farmers and see where their milk comes from. In turn creating a better appreciation of our world leading standards and the local produce we have right on our doorstep.”