NI dairy farmers facing 'doomsday' scenario

DCNI's Mike Johnson said the North's dairy sector will be
DCNI's Mike Johnson said the North's dairy sector will be "seriously exposed" if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal (Weber Shandwick/PA)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Northern Ireland's dairy sector will be wiped out if a no-deal Brexit happens, industry leaders have claimed.

Dairy Council Northern Ireland (DCNI) has warned it needs a deal that's workable to avoid a "doomsday" scenario.

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With over 3,100 dairy farmers, plus 2,000 people working in the processing sector, DCNI's Mike Johnson said the North's dairy sector will be "seriously exposed" if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

The proposed trade tariffs for exporting both raw milk and finished product would be in excess of £300m, which would directly affect milk prices.

"This tariff represents 25pc of the value of our entire industry. In a sector where the margin is, at best, 3pc or 4pc, trade tariffs of that magnitude would wipe out the industry," Mr Johnson said.

"Our analysis suggests that the milk price paid to farmers would fall by over 10 pence per litre from its current base should such tariffs be imposed."

Four companies - Dale Farm, Glanbia Cheese, Glanbia Ireland and Lakeland Dairies - account for over 90pc of the 2.4bn litres of milk collected from Northern Irish farms each year.

At present 35pc of the entire NI milk pool is processed at facilities in the Republic of Ireland, and Mr Johnson warned there is a processing shortfall of 600m litres that will not have a viable home.

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Meanwhile, Irish butter faces a €41m hit from new tariffs set to be imposed by the US this month in response to EU aircraft subsidies.

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