Milk price crisis: O’Neill vows to keep up pressure for help

Milk prices have fallen drastically over the past 18 months
Milk prices have fallen drastically over the past 18 months

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has vowed to “maintain momentum” in the drive to help dairy farmers.

Michelle O’Neill is due to hold a second high level meeting with Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in London on Monday to discuss the ongoing milk crisis.

The Sinn Fein minister will join her counterparts from Wales and Scotland to press the Secretary of State to take urgent action.

She said: “I met Liz Truss last week to highlight the unique difficulties facing our farmers. We depend on exports and these have been impacted severely by collapsing international markets and the strength of sterling.

“We also discussed the impact of market volatility on all sectors of the farming industry.

“I was encouraged by her understanding of our extreme set of circumstances and by her willingness to take action.

“However, I am determined to maintain momentum and that is why I will use this next meeting to press her on that action and for help in persuading the EU to increase the intervention threshold price.”

Last week Ms O’Neill and representatives from the Ulster Farmers’ Union travelled to London to appeal for help.

Milk prices have fallen drastically over the past 18 months and farmers claim they can no longer cover the cost of production.

In June liquid milk prices stood at 19.85 pence a litre, almost 10 pence a litre lower than last year.

Farmers want European Union Agriculture Minister Phil Hogan to increase the intervention price which has not been reviewed since 2008.