‘Worst crisis in 40 years’

MILKING US DRY. Local  Dairy farmer, Rab Skelton with his son Philip.INBM32-15 025SC.
MILKING US DRY. Local Dairy farmer, Rab Skelton with his son Philip.INBM32-15 025SC.

One of Ballymoney’s best known dairy farmers has said that all stakeholders have to work together to tackle the problem of milk prices in supermarkets.

Rab Skelton, whose family has been in milk production for more than 40 years, told the Times that the situation is as bad as he has ever experienced during his farming career.

“I think a line was drawn in the sand when we hit the 20p figure,” said Rab. “When it dropped below that, it was just about as much as we can take.

“The problem is that Northern Ireland exports 85% of its milk product and if there is too much milk on the market then that’s when we feel it.

“There is an import ban in Russia and China is buying a lot less so that all adds up. The world is a small place now and things like that have a big impact here.

“A place the size of Northern Ireland is operating in the same market as countries like America and New Zealand, I visted New Zealand for the first time in November and we just can’t compete with their system, they have the climate, their cows don’t have to be housed.

“There is something wrong when milk is cheaper than water,” he said.

Rab added that it was a “tricky line” to walk when it came to the protests such as the one as Asda in Coleraine when farmers blocked entrances with tractors.

“It is difficult as the last thing the farmer needs is not to have the public on their side but we need to do something and work together with all the stakeholders involved.”