Farming unions in UK to hold summit over low prices

Farming unions in the UK are to hold an urgent summit to discuss the problems facing the sector and in particular the crisis in the livestock and dairy sectors.

Farmers in the livestock and dairy sectors are facing financial devastation following falling prices which have seen many farmers getting paid less than the cost of production, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said.

In recent weeks there have been convoys of tractors carrying out rolling roadblocks on the A50 in Staffordshire and Derbyshire in the UK while hundreds of farmers have been demonstrating outside retailers’ depots and supermarkets, it says.

Ian Marshall, Ulster Farmers’ Union President, said that this is a multi-factorial problem across the entire industry both sectorally and geographically for which there is no single solution.

“But it is essential that everyone in government and the supply chain plays their part in helping to urgently address these genuine and serious difficulties.

“The understandable frustration of farmers is starting to spill over into actions that no one wants,” he said.

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) President Meurig Raymond said that the situation many NFU members are experiencing has become a crisis.

“In dairy, many milk producers have seen price cut after price cut. It’s simply not sustainable for any farmer to continue to produce milk if they’re selling it at a loss.

“The plight of many farmers has become desperately serious and with no sign that things will improve, we really need urgent action from retailers, the food service sector and processors to show commitment to British dairy farmers.

“I also want to see government agencies doing more to support the public procurement of British food,” he said.

Stephen James, NFU Cymru President, said let there be no doubt over the seriousness of the situation and as the UK unions we are looking for action to help alleviate the dire situation.

“By coming together and working as one I hope we can co-ordinate activity on several key action points which will not only benefit Welsh farmers but farmers from across the UK,” he said.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie said that they obviously have a UK-wide problem here and collectively the unions need to come up with answers for the benefit of our members but also importantly, the future of the industry.

“We know farmers are demonstrating elsewhere in the UK and we understand their concerns. It might not be long before Scottish farmers start to take action themselves,” he said.