The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has said that the price Northern Ireland’s dairy farmers are receiving for their milk is “unsustainable”.

The union said it is concerned that current milk price is getting further and further away from the breakeven cost for producing milk in Northern Ireland.

It is urging local dairy companies to take note of this gap and pay the “most competitive price to their farmers”.

“Otherwise, our dairy industry could be facing a very worrying final part of the year and beyond,” Cyril Orr, UFU Dairy Committee vice-chair said.

Milk price in NI

“Earlier this month I participated in the Copa-Copgeca Milk Working Group. During the meeting it was noted that not only was the Northern Ireland milk price lagging behind most European Union member states, but it is significantly behind those of our neighbours in Great Britain,” Cyril added.

“This could be as much as 5p/L, which is not sustainable, particularly as we approach the autumn and winter months when input costs will increase further.”

On top of this, Cyril said that Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative is causing “even graver concern amongst members” over its impact on input costs.

The latest data on UK milk price from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) confirms that ‘all in’ milk price in Northern Ireland in May 2023, at 32.82p/L, was 5.79p/L behind the Great Britain ‘all in’ milk price (38.61p/L).

In May 2022, Northern Ireland’s milk price, at 42.73p/L, was 2.73p/L above that of Great Britain.