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Price pressures on milk farmers will turn sour

Farmers in Great Britain have been in the headlines for receiving a farm gate price less than the cost of production.

In Northern Ireland, 1,500 dairy farmers were receiving less than 21p per litre last month, but face an average cost of production of around 25p. It is obvious that our dairy farms are in a loss-making position. No one could expect dairy farmers to continue under these circumstances.

What's making matters worse is the persistent devaluing of milk by small, independent retailers. I have written to them with a simple message: stop selling milk as a loss-leader, otherwise the future supply of fresh milk from local farms will be jeopardised.

I am also asking consumers to think about how they buy their milk. We need milk supplied daily from local farms, but it will be impossible for farmers to deliver this if farm gate prices continue to lie below the cost of production.

ANDREW ADDISON

Chairman, Ulster Farmers' Union dairy committee

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