East Derry MLA, Claire Sugden, has said dairy farmers cannot continue to lose money on milk and that few businesses can survive current prices.

Sugden cited recent statistics from the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) which revealed that, in 2022, farmers made 7p for every two litres of milk they produced, whereas this year it is costing them 13p to produce the same amount.

“These figures simply do not add up and mean that many farmers are not even making enough to cover production costs, let alone make any profit,” Sugden said.

“No business can survive those kind of economics.

“With retail prices continuing to increase and production costs decreasing since 2022 you would expect farmers to be making more, not less.”

Sugden added that “something in the milk supply chain has gone very wrong” and needs to be remedied as soon as possible.

“Dairy farmers need to make profit, like any business,” she said.

“Given the majority of farms in Northern Ireland are smaller family-run farms, this means paying bills and the everyday costs of living.

“They are already being hit hard by high interest rates. If these financial pressures aren’t resolved soon then it simply won’t pay to be in dairy farming – one of Northern Ireland’s biggest industries.”


The UFU has said returns for dairy farmers for milk in Northern Ireland are inadequate and that they are “getting shafted” on prices.

According to the union, returns for milk are down 40% compared to this time last year and the majority of dairy farmers are not earning enough to cover production costs.

As well as this, UFU dairy chair Kenny Hawkes said he believes profits are being made further up the supply chain.

“Our food producers are getting shafted while others in the dairy chain are clearly making money,” he said.

“For more than six months now, nearly 20p/L has been taken from milk prices in Northern Ireland and things are not getting any better.”

Hawkes said the largest proportion of Northern Ireland’s dairy farmers are not receiving enough to cover the cost of production “let alone have any profit left over to support a home and family.”

He said it is not sustainable for farmers, especially when input prices remain higher than average.

“It’s utterly disheartening to once again, have to call out the failing dynamics within our food supply system.

“If this continues, dairy farmers will be put out of business which will have serious implications for the agri-food industry and our consumers.”