A scheme to encourage Northern Ireland (NI) suppliers to produce higher fat and protein milk is to be introduced by Lakeland Dairies.

The processor, which collects nearly half of all milk produced in NI, set out the new payment system to NI committee members on Friday, ahead of letters being sent out to suppliers next week.

The correspondence will set out to each supplier the fat and protein of the milk they supplied in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The supplier can then pick which of these years they want to act as a reference year going forward.

Once this is done, they will be allocated a monthly milk constituent base figure for each of the 12 months of that year. The actual milk supplied from January 2022 onwards will then be paid relative to this base figure for constituents.

For all new milk solids produced by any supplier above their chosen base constituents level, an enhanced payment will be paid for each unit of butterfat and protein supplied.

The enhanced payments per unit of constituents will be 0.029p per litre for every 0.01% of extra fat, and 0.056p per litre for every 0.01% of extra protein produced. All other existing milk payment elements remain as they are currently, and there will be no increase in the existing payment base to create a fund.

While the scheme is designed to encourage farmers to increase milk solids, there were some dissenting voices at the Friday meeting. Farmers who already have good solids pointed out that if someone catches up to them in 2022, then this person will actually be getting paid more for the same quality of milk.

According to Niall Matthews, chair of Lakeland Dairies, the feedback received from milk suppliers is that they would generally favour a system of this type.

Read more in next weeks’ NI edition of the Irish Farmers Journal.

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