In its response to a UK-wide consultation on the possible introduction of mandatory milk contracts in the dairy sector, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is clear that it wants to see formal written contracts in place between farmers and processors in NI.

At present, while suppliers to co-ops such as Dale Farm operate under contract, there are many other farmers working without a formal arrangement in place. For some, those relationships go back many years, and are built on trust between farmer and processor. For others, a lack of contract has worked to their benefit, and they have essentially been free to move processors, taking advantage of some lucrative short-term deals.