Milk production in Northern Ireland fell by 2.5% in 2016 compared to the previous year, the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs show.

In the period from January to December 2016 the volume of raw milk produced in the North totalled 2,209.48m litres, according to DAERA.

This decreased by 56.91m litres when compared with the 2015 total of 2,266.39m litres.

The level of milk production also fell during December compared to the corresponding month the previous year.

In December 2016 the volume of milk produced on farms was 175.20m litres, 2.9% lower than December 2015, figures show.

This represented a decrease in production of 5.19m litres, this trend of falling milk production in the North followed on from the month of November when 7.24m litres less was produced.

In December 2016 the average farm gate price of milk, including retrospective bonuses, was 26.97p/L (31c/L), 7.1p/L (8c/L) higher than December 2015, according to DAERA.

Taking this into account, the weighted average farm gate price of milk during January to December 2016 was 20.19p/L (24c/L), 0.6p/L (0.7c/L) lower than the same period in 2015.

Milk production in the Republic and in the EU

In 2016 milk production in the Republic of Ireland increased 4.4% on 2015 levels, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

Last year Irish milk production stood at 6.6 billion litres, compared to the 6.3 billion litres produced in 2015.

For December 2016, domestic milk intake by creameries and pasteurisers was estimated at 177.6m litres, 2.2% below the corresponding 2015 figure.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the EU Milk Market Observatory (MMO) show that EU milk deliveries were 3.7% lower last November than the corresponding month in 2015, a decrease 440,000t.

The fall in production in November represented the sixth consecutive month with a reduction.

In the first 11 months of 2016, EU milk collections were up by 0.7% on the same period in 2015.

For 2017, output could progressively reach and exceed 2016 levels as a reaction to higher milk prices, Eucolait, the association for the European dairy trade, said in its report to the MMO.

Eucolait has estimated that for 2017, EU milk production will increase by 0.5%.