Ulster Farmers’ Union slams Moy Park temporary closure

Group claims there is a ‘real risk that some farmers will have to close their business’

he Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said Moy Park’s decision to shut down its Ballymena processing facility was “another blow to poultry producers” in the North.

he Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said Moy Park’s decision to shut down its Ballymena processing facility was “another blow to poultry producers” in the North.

 

Poultry producers in the North could go out of business because of Moy Park’s decision to “temporarily” close a key production line at its processing plant in Ballymena, farmers’ leaders are warning.

In an unusual move, the North’s largest farming union has publicly highlighted that the industry is “disappointed” that Moy Park is not standing by its producer network in Northern Ireland despite being highly profitable.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said Moy Park’s decision to shut down its Ballymena processing facility was “another blow to poultry producers” in the North.

The UFU deputy president, David Brown said many poultry producers are already under pressure because of their involvement in the controversial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which the UFU said farmers had signed up to for legitimate reasons.

The union claims many farmers are now “financially exposed” because of failings in the scheme and are struggling to repay loans they had taken out for boilers on the strength of what were then seen to be government guarantees on long-term tariffs.

Mr Brown said the combination of outstanding issues surrounding the RHI scheme and Moy Park’s move to “temporarily” stop processing live birds at its Ballymena plant because of what it has described as “challenging market conditions” will mean a further income hit for already struggling poultry producers.

Profits

“Moy Park is Northern Ireland’s largest employer and made profits of over £72 million in 2017. While they have said the decision is temporary, producers are very disappointed that the company cannot stand by them during this period of weaker demand.

“In recent years, retailers have been reluctant to pass on inflationary rises and the cost of the living wage to consumers and there is continuous pressure for the supply chain to reduce its costs. Yet again we have seen this squeeze come onto the primary producer and there is a very real risk that some farmers will have to close their business,” Mr Brown warned.