O’Neill pledges ongoing support for dairy sector

Agri Minister Michelle O'Neill
Agri Minister Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has told dairy farmers that she will continue to fight their case when she meets with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan next week in Brussels.

Speaking at the Ulster Farmers’ Union Dairy Stakeholder Summit at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus, she said the Commissioner’s position on EU support was no longer sustainable.

Addressing the meeting - where it emerged that farmers hav ebegun culling less productive cows in an attempt to cut costs - Ms O’Neill said: “I share your concerns with the current situation in the dairy sector, which has been caused by a global crisis and a range of factors, many of which are outside our control and cannot be solved at a local level.

“I have listened to those concerns raised by farming groups and individuals. From Dec 2014 I have been actively engaged with the industry and I asked the banks to show more understanding and flexibility.

“I have persistently called on Commissioner Phil Hogan to review the intervention price. I have been disappointed with his response to date and I believe his position is not sustainable.”