Milk prices paid to farmers in NI have dropped again, with processors taking another 1.5p to 2p/l off for July supplies.
Lakeland set the tone last Friday, applying a further 1.5p/l cut, taking base price to 28.5p/l, which is effectively 19p/l below the base it offered last December. Announcing its price, the co-op pointed to sluggish global demand for dairy products, resilient supplies in major production regions and an economic slowdown in China and across Asia.
Others have followed with similar reductions. Dale Farm also cut its base by 1.5p/l, taking it to 31.05p/l once the co-op’s 0.3p/l loyalty bonus is added in, and before deductions are made to the price for transport.
The same 1.5p cut has been applied by Glanbia Cheese, leaving the Magheralin-based processor on a base of 28p/l, before a 0.5p/l sustainability payment is included.
To date, Strathroy has applied the largest price reduction, taking 2p/l off its base for July, leaving it at 31p/l.
Earlier in the summer it had been hoped local milk prices might not dip below 30p/l. However, the mood has changed since then, not helped by the latest New Zealand GDT auction, where the index fell another 7.4% on the back of subdued Chinese demand.
The overall index was mainly driven down by a 5.2% cut in the price of skim and a massive 10.9% drop in the price of whole milk powder. The only positive was a 5.8% increase in the price of cheddar.
Reacting to the latest GDT price slump, sources in the trade described it as “brutal” and a “kick in the teeth”.
Commenting on the latest round of milk price cuts, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president David Brown hit out at what he described as a “follow-the-leader” approach.
“Once one processor drops the price, the others follow suit. We are fully aware that dairy commodity prices have weakened – but dairy companies put product into different markets which would mean differing returns,” he said.
The UFU president maintained that falling prices across dairy, beef and lamb mean that his members are losing confidence in the future of farming, and that all sectors have been hit hard by the wet summer.
“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,” he said.