Farming representatives have met with Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) to update him on the very dairy crisis.
The meeting involving Donaghcloney farmers Kyle Savage and Brian Matthews, which took place on Thursday in Jo-Anne Dobson MLA’s constituency office in Banbridge, focused on the concerns of farmers from all sectors - pig, beef, dairy, sheep and potato.
This is the latest in a series of meetings which representatives of Fair Price Farming NI are having with organisations and Government across Northern Ireland and in London.
Mrs Dobson who is the Ulster Unionist Agriculture spokesperson said: “There are many similarities between farming and town centre retail businesses.
“Small businesses are often family-run and I know too well from helping retailers in my own constituency how they can suffer at the hands of Government policies, just the same as farmers.
“During the meeting the farmers raised fears for the future of rural Northern Ireland as we know it if a viable and speedy solution is not found to address below farm-gate prices across the farming sectors.
“They explained how local suppliers and wholesalers benefit from the farming sector and how an excellent relationships exists between farmers and local shopkeepers who value the quality of the product produced on Northern Ireland’s farms.
“I welcome the fact that Michelle O’Neill is meeting with her counterparts across the UK regions on Monday.
Following the meeting a spokesperson from Fair Price Farming NI said:”We found this a very useful meeting and together are calling for improved cooperation across all sectors of the industry.
“We feel in putting across our case to Glyn there is a key understanding of the problems within the supply chain.
“We raised concerns around some retail practices which work against local farmers and look forward to closer and strengthened ties with the independent retail sector.”
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This was a very useful meeting with Fair Price Farming and I am pleased that they agree with us on the need for a more effective partnership approach in developing the Agri-Food sector.
“NIIRTA wants to see DARD establish a Supply Chain Forum, bringing together Retailers, Producers and Processors to address challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
“We hope to meet the DARD Minister soon to discuss our proposals.”