The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has said the “relentless pressure” put on farmers from processors over the last number of weeks is unacceptable.

The union said farmers across Northern Ireland are losing confidence in the future of farming as high costs of production continue.

UFU president David Brown said processors are adding to their burden as they continue to drop prices at an already difficult time for farmers.

“My phone has not cooled over the last number of weeks with dairy, beef and sheep farmers across NI in desperation after the latest drop in prices, with no justification nor reasoning,” he said.

“What we have is a case of follow-the-leader. Once one processor drops the price, the others follow suit.”

In terms of dairy, Brown said that although commodity prices have weakened, dairy companies put product into different markets which should mean differing returns.

“However, what we are seeing is a reducing differential between the highest and lowest paying processors,” he said.

“The rapid reduction in milk prices since late 2022 has outpaced any fall in input prices.”

Brown said beef prices have also “fallen significantly” by over £120/head and lamb has dropped by over £30/head.

“This means that the break even in terms of cost of production is widening and everyday our farmers are losing,” he said.

“We can’t have processors undermining farmers’ confidence. How can farmers be expected to produce high quality food to world leading standards and receive less than it costs to produce as a return? It is simply neither viable nor sustainable.”


“The wettest July on record has been headline news – but what is not being highlighted is that due to the unseasonably wet ground conditions, livestock are having to be housed much earlier than anticipated when they should be outside grazing,” Brown said.

“Livestock are having to be fed bought-in feed or in some cases, opening the first cut of silage adding additional cost and pressure for farmers, whilst feed and fertiliser prices remain at record levels.”

Brown said arable and horticulture growers have also been hit hard by the weather, as they continue to try to harvest their crops.

“These falls in prices could not have come at a worse time,” he said.

“I encourage members to contact their processors and board members and ask why the prices are falling and to pay the best price they can rather than leading any race to the bottom.

“Processors and board members must now listen to the concern of their suppliers.”