A number of factors have contributed significantly to the falling milk price such as the Chinese stuttering economy, the removing of milk quotas and Russia’s decision to stop buying EU products.
It costs farmers around 30p to produce a litre of milk, yet most farmers are being paid a despairing 20p. Farmers need at least 27p a litre to break even.
Many farmers across the UK are running at a loss unable to cover production costs alone. With the escalating costs of fuels, feed stuff and fertilisers, milk price has been steadily decreasing. Out of the 2,500 dairy farms, many of them will go out of business.
The falling milk price has an overall negative impact for farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the economy as a whole!
We cannot overestimate the gravity of the current epidemic hitting Northern Ireland’s biggest industry. This problem must be tackled with a universal approach. I urge the UK government, the Northern Ireland Executive and other EU member states to pressurise the commission to increase the intervention price for milk.
All authorities must also work collectively to ensure that banks play their role constructively by not breathing down the necks of farmers!
The government must also promote UK dairy produce domestically and in growing export markets. Additionally, the government must maximise Farm Income until the current crisis is solved, Farmers play a pivotal role in Northern Ireland’s economy acting as the biggest region of export in the UK.
The government must also explore the possibility of a Free Trade Movement in order to open our markets to worldwide investment. Between countries such as New Zealand and China, the agreement has proved a success.
To conclude, the government needs to implement some of these proposals as they owe it to the people who work tirelessly night and day, twenty-four seven to produce a vital commodity which is one of life’s essentials.
Remember, farming is not merely a 9-5 occupation; it is a way of life for all those people and their families involved in the dairy industry!
Jonathan Hall (Aged 16, son of a dairy farmer), Fivemiletown, Fermanagh