NI dairy farmers offered fixed milk price until 2018

Lakeland Dairies, a farmer-owned co-op which takes milk from 2,200 farms based in the northern half of Ireland, is offering suppliers the chance to fix the price on a proportion of their milk until the end of 2018.

Farmers have been invited to join the voluntary scheme, which would see producers paid a fixed price on either 5% or 10% of their milk supplied, based on 2015 supply figures.

While fixed prices are already on offer in the Republic of Ireland, it the first time that farmers in Northern Ireland have had a similar opportunity.

The fixed milk price will be 21.75p/litre for the months of October through to March and 20.75p/litre for April through to September.

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This is based on a standard litre of 3.85% butterfat and 3.19% protein. Milk supplied under the fixed milk price scheme will be eligible for any other bonuses for which it may qualify.

The business says that NI suppliers are likely to receive the equivalent of an average of 23p/litre.

The scheme will run for 31 months from 1 June 2016 to the end of December 2018.

Michael Hanley, group chief executive of Lakeland Dairies, said the business wanted to ease the burden of market volatility on its milk suppliers.

“As a farmer owned co-operative society, we are committed to paying the highest possible milk price in line with market conditions. We’re very pleased to be in a position to offer this additional new support to our milk suppliers.

“The new fixed milk price scheme will benefit participating milk producers with a greater level of certainty and stability.”

The scheme will be open to all milk suppliers and participation is voluntary. However, once farmers sign up the agreement will be binding.

A spokesman for the Ulster Farmers Union said it was a positive move by Lakeland Dairies, although each individual farm would base their decision on their own circumstances.

“Some farmers might be hesitant to tie in their prices in the event of recovering dairy commodity prices, but the base price is pitched at a level which will be an incentive for some and the percentage is set at such a level to provide a degree of certainty going forward without leaving a producer over exposed in the event of a recovery in price.”