The View from Northern Ireland: The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has this afternoon expressed concern over the continued irregularity in the prices being paid to producers in Northern Ireland’s dairy industry and has called on all processors to address this urgently.

The call comes as early analysis indicates that the next UFU Milk Price Indicator figure is set to rise, it said.

According to UFU deputy president Barclay Bell: “The current UFU MPI figure is standing at 33.52ppl and all indications are that this figure should rise when the next MPI is set on 24 August. Locally, there are signs that we can expect to see the lowest paying processors raising their prices this month and since, as the UFU MPI suggests, the current market is strong we would expect to see prices rise quite considerably. The fact that in recent months many processors have continued to pay our producers well below the MPI figure is very disappointing. Milk volumes are recovering but some processors are not passing on a fair share of the returns to farmers, meaning that milk producers are not able to build a solid base for this coming winter.

This irregularity in local prices has been on going now for nearly six months and many dairy farmers are feeling very short changed, he added.

“Processors who say that they cannot afford to pay the price as indicated by the UFU MPI need to stop making excuses and step up to the mark or many farmers may start to vote with their feet. Global dairy markets are showing record returns from commodity markets so even those who are paying close to the UFU MPI figure are likely to be able to pay a higher price to their farmers.”

Barclay Bell concluded: “There is the old adage that says ‘one person’s misfortune is another one’s gain’ and this would appear to be the case with the New Zealand Clostridium scare. The Northern Ireland dairy industry has an opportunity to tap into new markets, particularly in China. If our processors were able to secure contracts in the Chinese market, this would be a massive boost for the industry and we would expect to see a significant rise in producer prices as well.

The next UFU MPI figure will be published on 24 August 2013.

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