There could be a shortage of milk in Northern Ireland due to an increase in production costs, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has warned.
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Dairy cows. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

UFU dairy chair Mervyn Gordon said: “Retailers, as well as processors, need to be supporting farmers so they can receive a fair return from the booming dairy market which will help significantly in managing the extra expense they’re currently enduring.

“As reported by Arla, the price of liquid milk in shops (up to 2022) is seven percent lower than what it was ten years ago, despite the thriving dairy market.”

He continued: “If the price of milk and all dairy products in stores does not rise correspondingly, come later in the year, Northern Ireland (NI) could be set to endure a milk scarcity because farmers can no longer keep up with the skyrocketing costs of producing high-quality milk. If they can’t cover the basics, how can they be expected to continue running a farm business that is supposed to support a family and home?”

Mr Gordon warned production could slow, saying: “When dairy products are doing well in the market with prices rising, you would normally see an increase in the amount of milk being produced off the back of it as farmers want to take advantage of improved returns. However, the eyewatering productions costs are having the opposite effect.”

Mr Gordon pointed to rising costs of “feed, fuel and fertiliser” in particular — all three of which have been impacted by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Farmers’ extra production costs needs to be alleviated by those further up the supply chain,” he added. “Otherwise, there is every likelihood that dairy farmers will reduce output in response to unsustainable input costs.”

Global Dairy Trade Event #306 concluded with the aggregate down 2.9%. Cheddar cheese was down 0.1%. Whole Milk Powder was 4.9% lower. Skim Milk Powder fell 0.6%. Butter dropped 1.0%

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