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Farmers meeting called as milk price protests continue

Dairy farmers block entrances during a protest outside the Lidl distribution centre in Nutts Corner, Co Antrim, on Tuesday night.
John Monaghan

FARMERS leaders are to meet the agriculture minister to discuss problems affecting the dairy industry as protests over the falling price of milk continue across the north.

Protests have been ongoing amidst anger by dairy farmers that supermarkets have been selling milk at a loss, action which they claim threatens dairy farms with closure.

Dairy farmers claim they are receiving around 10p less per litre of milk than last summer.

On Tuesday night a group of farmers blocked around 12 lorries for the entrance of Lidl's regional distribution centre at Nutts Corner.

It follows blockades and protests by farmers at several supermarkets in counties Derry and Tyrone.

Retailers have blamed global economic trends for the price slump affecting farmers.

The meeting organised by the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) is due to take place at Greenmount College in Antrim town on Thursday August 27.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill and representatives from the dairy industry are expected to be in attendance.

UFU dairy chairman Jonathan Moore said: "The fall in milk prices has left many farmers desperately worried about the future of their businesses."

He added: "With no sign of things improving we are bringing the industry together to help develop a strategy that will allow farmers to get through what is going to be a very difficult autumn/winter."

Protesters and the UFU have called on the government to lobby the European Union to review pricing structures.

Also on Tuesday, British supermarket chain Morrisons said it was introducing a new brand of milk costing 10p extra per litre, with the increase proceeds to go to farmers.

Protests outside Morrisons stores in Britain have since been called off.

In a posting on Facebook, the Fair Price for Farmers NI group claimed they would meet Lidl next week to "arrange a price going forward."

No one at Lidl was available for comment last night.

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