Londonderry Alderman, Maurice Devenney has pledged his support for farmers, who are facing hardship due to pricing policies.
He said that across the industry dairy farmers were campaigning to raise awareness of the low prices they receiver for their products which has fallen over a third in the past year, leaving farmers producing milk well below the cost of production.
“Currently farmers are paid 19p a litre, which represents a 40 per cent drop over the last 18 months. The reality for farmers is that they currently loose between eight to 10 pence on every litre milk they produce,” he said.
“Northern Ireland is recognised as having a strong dairy farming sector and I would encourage everyone to show their support for our local farmers. Northern Ireland is world-renowned for its excellent agricultural sector and we should voice our anger at the unfair treatment of our farmers.
“I am glad that my colleague, William Irwin, chairman of the agriculture committee has already held an emergency meeting on this issue and given farmers a platform to raise their concerns.
“Farmers recognise that this is a problem which extends beyond the United Kingdom and has been impacted by factors such as currency change and issues within the Russian and Chinese markets.
“However, it is important that the Assembly presses for action to be taken, particularly at a European level and it is vital that the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan increases the intervention price for dairy products as a matter of urgency,before we see farmers going out of business.”
Alderman Devenney also said that Ulster Farmers Union president, Ian Marshall, had issued a warning that the industry was on its knees and had called for mechanisms to be put in place to avoid disaster.
“There are also concerns that beef, lamb and arable farmers are facing serious financial pressures because of low prices offered for their products. The farming crisis is getting worse on a daily basis.”