MP holds meeting to discuss dairy crisis

Upper Bann MP David Simpson with Fane Valley Chief Executive Trevor Lockhart and MLA William Irwin.
Upper Bann MP David Simpson with Fane Valley Chief Executive Trevor Lockhart and MLA William Irwin.

Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson and Newry & Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin have met with Fane Valley Chief Executive Trevor Lockhart in Banbridge to discuss the on-going dairy crisis.

The pair described the meeting as useful and said that it was important that all stakeholders in the industry played a part in moving the industry to a more sustainable position.

Mr Simpson stated, “This was a constructive meeting and both William and I discussed the current difficulties facing the dairy sector with Mr Lockhart at length.

“The message we are getting from dairy farmers is one of concern at the deepening crisis and the instability that is plaguing the sector by prohibiting growth.

“Farmers are continuing to operate at below the cost of production, something which is just not sustainable.

“While there are encouraging signs from the Global Diary Trade Auction in recent weeks we must recognise that these rises are from a very low base and it unfortunately will be sometime before we reach farm gate prices which cover the cost of production.”

He added, “Mr Lockhart took on board and indeed agreed with many of our concerns and as Fane Valley is a processor I feel they, along with others of course, have a significant part to play in looking at the longer term direction of the industry and working towards sustainability.

“I would encourage processors and farmers to look at ways to reduce the impact of global volatility in milk prices and production - the industry cannot afford to solely rely others to find solutions.”

He stated, “Mr Lockhart was hopeful that dairy markets have reached a plateau and that the industry in the longer term will regain stability. The general view is that recovery will be slow and it may be well into 2016 before we see significant movement in markets. I would reiterate that second guessing what markets will do is extremely difficult - we have in the past witnessed significant market movement in a short space of time.

“As I have said before raising intervention levels would be an appropriate measure to reassure and stabilise markets however the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan is adamant this is not the right solution.

“Unfortunately he has not delivered anything which has helped the farmer suffering at the coal face.”