The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has urged dairy processors to end the practice of retrospective milk pricing for producers.

This follows a unanimous decision by its executive to support calls for change. The UFU said this would be fairer and would bring Northern Ireland (NI) into line with best practice elsewhere in the United Kingdom (UK).

UFU deputy president, David Brown said: “The UFU Executive Committee met last week via Zoom and unanimously ratified the change in milk pricing in NI.

“Prior to the executive’s decision, the UFU dairy committee agreed to end retrospective milk pricing and met with dairy processors, only for it to be dismissed by them.

“At the beginning of November, First Milk, a GB-based cooperative, announced the price their farmers would receive for milk produced in December. But here farmers will not know until mid to late January what they will receive for December milk. That is simply wrong.”

Farmers need to know milk pricing in advance

Brown added that with fertiliser, fuel and other costs rising it was vital that farmers knew in advance what they would be paid.

“This is key to managing cash flows, but under current pricing arrangements something as simple and logical as that is impossible,” he said.

The UFU said moves to end retrospective milk pricing would be seen as a sign of goodwill and commitment to farmers by dairy processors.

“We are the only part of the UK where this flawed payment system is the norm; dairy is the only farming sector here where price calculations are retrospective.

“There is no good reason for this approach and change is long overdue. Delivery on this simple request would bring goodwill and transparency, and both are needed to give farmers confidence for the future,” the UFU deputy president concluded.