Ulster Farmers Union Chief Executive Wesley Aston is calling on retailers in Northern Ireland to pay realistic prices for all for the food that is produced on their doorstep.
“We are striving to represent the entire farming industry, not just dairy,” he said.
“Producers across all the agri sectors are under severe financial pressure at the present time. And we expect that both retailers and those businesses operating within the food service sector to recognise this reality.
"And this means paying farmers a fair price.”
Aston was responding to ASDA’s confirmation to its Northern Ireland milk supplier, Dale Farm, that it is to pay 28p/L (40c/L) for liquid milk supplies from Monday, August 17, onwards.
This is in line with similar steps taken by the supermarket in other parts of the UK. The move has been made to assist farmers during the current crisis.
An ASDA spokesperson said "ASDA’s origins are in dairy farming, which is why we are acting in the best interests of our farmers and our customers by increasing the price we pay and not passing on any of the costs to customers: our retail price in Asda’s Northern Ireland stores stays the same.”
The announcement by ASDA coincides with UK-wide efforts by farm lobby organisations, including the UFU, to push the issue of self-sufficiency for UK food up the political agenda.
Part of this campaign will be to convince retailers than contracts based on a fair price for farmers, such as the liquid milk model, will be good for the agricultural industry, good for retailers, and good for consumers.
“There is ample evidence that consumers support the concept of fair play and value the continued supply of locally produced food,” said Wesley Aston.