Finance Minister Arlene Foster and Upper Bann MP David Simpson have met with a group of dairy farmers to hear first hand the current challenges facing the farming sector.
The meeting was to discuss what actions could be taken in the short and longer term to help farmers survive the current crisis.
Ms Foster commented, “Representing a rural constituency I am aware of the pressures facing the vast majority of farmers at present, not just in dairying but across many of the other sectors. The strength of sterling compared to the euro, increased supply of milk globally and downward pressure being imposed by the retailers are all having a negative impact on farm gate prices.
“Unfortunately there is little that the Northern Ireland Executive can do to increase the price that farmers receive for their produce. I have no doubt that many farms will suffer from cash flow problems over the coming months. I do however hope that the processors, banks and key suppliers work with farmers over the coming months to help them survive the current downturn. I will be engaging with the various sectors within the agricultural industry and encouraging them to work with farmers.”
Following the meeting, David Simpson said that Westminster needs to assist in resolving this crisis: “Through my role on the DEFRA committee I will be calling on the DEFRA Minister to support an increase in export refunds at a European level. There is no doubt that farmers throughout the UK are suffering, and Europe must act immediately to ensure that one of its largest industries is protected. I will be also using my position on the DEFRA committee to call on the UK retailers, particularly the multiple retailers to support the farming sector at this time.”