Farmers for Action
FARMERS for Action (FFA) mounted a protest on Thursday evening past in Cookstown.
The event was staged outside the venue used to host this year’s United Dairy Farmers’ AGM. Leaflets were handed out to United members as they arrived for the meeting.
FFA UK Chairman David Handley told Farming Life that United’s management remains unwilling to talk to or co-operate with his organisation.
He added: “Our core concern remains that of the poor returns being received by United’s suppliers for their milk, something that FFA will not tolerate!”
Meanwhile William Taylor, FFA’s Northern Ireland co-ordinator, indicated that the absolute lack of formal communication between FFA and United’s management over the past year reflects extremely badly on the principles by which the co-op is managed.
He added:“FFA is 100% behind the founding principles of United Dairy Farmers. These are values that need reinstating immediately to benefit milk producers in Northern Ireland!”
The impact which United’s monthly milk auction has on local farmgate returns remains a key issue for FFA.
Mr Taylor added: “Farmers for Action is in full support of United Dairy Farmers’ co-op system operating as originally intended, in other words rewarding members on a monthly basis by way of a properly run auction system, not to mention an annual bonus.
“However; given the current GB market, where the spot milk price is hitting 40p/l weekly, we believe that the last United monthly milk auction could have delivered almost 5p/l more in producer milk cheques.
“Farming is now, officially, the most unsafe business in the UK and Ireland. A cash strapped industry can never be a safe industry.
Farmers for Action has concluded that United’s management team must reform the auction system immediately and, in so doing, allow the co-op to flourish.”
Responding to the FFA statement, John Dunlop, the Chairman of United Dairy Farmers, said: “United had a very well attended AGM on Thursday evening with a good discussion on the key issues affecting United members and the Group plans for the future.
“United Dairy Farmers is one of the most democratic co-operatives in the world - the vast majority of our directors are dairy farmer members who are elected to the Board by their fellow milk producers.
“We are increasingly concerned by the FFA agenda, which seems to be more about keeping NI milk out of GB than about helping local dairy farmers through their current difficulties,” added Mr Dunlop.
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