Sustainable food requires sustainable commodity prices: UFU
As market prices continue to fall at an alarming rate alongside continued high costs of production, the Ulster Farmers’ Union has said its members are losing confidence in the future of farming in Northern Ireland.
UFU President, David Brown said he has had countless dairy, beef and sheep farmers across the province contacting him “in desperation” at the latest drop in prices with “no justification nor reasoning”.
“The relentless pressure on prices that processors have exerted over the last number of weeks is unacceptable and must stop,” said Mr Brown.
“What we have is a case of follow-the-leader. Once one processor drops the price, the others follow suit. We are fully aware that dairy commodity prices have weakened – but dairy companies put product into different markets which would mean differing returns.
“However, what we are seeing is a reducing differential between the highest and lowest paying processors. The rapid reduction in milk prices since late 2022 has outpaced any fall in input prices.
‘How can farmers be expected to produce high quality food to world leading standards and receive less than it costs to produce as a return?’
“Likewise, beef prices have fallen significantly by over £120 a head and lamb has dropped by over £30 a head. This means that the break even in terms of cost of production is widening and everyday our farmers are losing.
“We can’t have processors undermining farmers’ confidence. How can farmers be expected to produce high quality food to world leading standards and receive less than it costs to produce as a return? It is simply neither viable nor sustainable.”
He added that following the wettest July on record, the unseasonably wet ground conditions are not being highlighted, with livestock needing housed much earlier than normal.
“Livestock are having to be fed bought-in feed or in some cases, opening the first cut of silage adding additional cost and pressure for farmers, whilst feed and fertiliser prices remain at record levels.
“Arable and horticulture growers have also been hit hard by the weather as they continue to try and harvest their crops. These falls in prices could not have come at a worse time,” he added.
“I encourage members to contact their processors and board members and ask why the prices are falling and to pay the best price they can rather than leading any race to the bottom. Processors and board members must now listen to the concern of their suppliers.”