DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney says the EU Farm Commissioner, Kilkenny native, Phil Hogan, needs to act urgently on the bread-and-butter issue of in-crisis dairy farmers hit by oversupply and huge price drops.
Mr Devenney told the Sentinel: “This is a grave situation for many dairy producers in my own constituency.
“My colleague Diane Dodds recently met with the Commissioner Phil Hogan to urge him to take action on behalf of our farmers. I would certainly echo her calls and would ask the relevant Ministers in Belfast and London to do likewise.”
Following her meeting Mrs Dodds said: “The dairy industry in Northern Ireland has suffered a sustained drop in prices for almost a year. I have been pressing Commissioner Hogan on this issue but so far we have had some indications of measures that are valuable in the long term, but will not resolve the immediate crisis that is facing the industry.
“Structural reform, supply chain fairness and the opening up of new markets are all big issues but the most important one facing family farm businesses is a huge drop in price, largely due to oversupply and market volatility. This demands a response from the Commissioner.
“Monday’s extraordinary farm council is looming, the markets are looking for a signal from the Commission that Europe is willing to take action to support its industry. Restoring market confidence is key and one of the immediate tools that the Commission can use is the temporary, time limited raising of intervention prices.
“Once the immediate issue of price stabilisation has been resolved we can then look at measures that will help the industry to become more competitive and expand into new markets.
“The long term future for our dairy farmers is good. We need to give them the help to sustain their businesses in the short term so that growth can return.
“This is a sensible approach for farmers and for our local economy.”