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'This is disastrous and will hit already poor margins'

Ballymoney farmer Robert McConaghy said the removal of the quotas created a "perfect storm" for farmers already contending with low milk prices.

He said it "couldn't come at a worse time for the industry," adding: "Many dairy farmers are already losing money on the milk they are producing, and the removal of milk quotas is going to multiply that."

The 27-year-old, who began farming full time in 2009, added that the end of quotas would be beneficial to farmers elsewhere. "When the quotas go it will be of benefit to the Republic of Ireland, rather than Northern Ireland.

"Dairy farmers in the Republic aim to increase production by 50%. That will increase export competition for farmers in Northern Ireland - and farmers in the Republic also have the advantage of the poor euro at the minute.

"The weak euro is a complete disaster for dairy farmers, and with the end of quotas, it creates a perfect storm.

"The end of quotas is not going to increase the milk price, it will only reduce our margins. Many dairy farmers are already working 70 hours plus per week.

"We are doing our best to maximize efficiency and improve margins, but there is only so much that can be done at farmer level."

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