The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) is warning dairy farmers across Northern Ireland (NI) against signing up to processor-led sustainability schemes without a full understanding of the commitments involved.

The union recognises the importance of improving environmental sustainability within the NI dairy industry, but states the new schemes rolling out in January 2024 currently lack transparency.

Where farmers rush into signing such agreements without fully understanding the scheme rules, the UFU fears this will create future problems, primarily around milk supply contracts.

'Lacking details'

“Essential details are lacking,” said UFU deputy president William Irvine, adding: “Farmers need to be clear and confident about what is being asked of them, otherwise it could cause issues down the line.”

Irvine also points out a “disjoint between sustainability payments and new milk supply agreements” with some schemes only making bonus payments to farmers with a milk supply agreement in place.

“We urge all dairy farmers to approach sustainability commitments with caution and to take time to read through everything.

If the terms and conditions are not clear in any way, they should contact their milk processor directly or seek legal advice.”

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