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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Farmers protest over 'poor prices'
Farmers have been protesting at Stormont
Farmers called for strike action at a protest last month
Farmers in Northern Ireland who claim that low prices have led to a collapse in farm incomes have taken their case to the streets of Belfast.

The Ulster Farmers' Union protest is to highlight what it claims are unsustainable returns for produce by selling it to the public at "farmgate prices".

The demonstration at Castle Place began at 1200 BST on Thursday where food products were displayed at the prices received by the farmers.

The UFU said many of its members were selling produce for a price which barely covered the cost of production, a situation which the union described as "totally unsustainable" for farming families.

Red tape

The UFU is campaigning against a rural exodus and says farmers must get a better deal from the food chain if they are to stay in business.

"For the past five years, farmers have been earning less than the minimum wage and working on average almost 70 hours per week," said UFU President John Gilliland.

"The very poor prices which we are receiving from the food chain is a major factor in the collapse in farm incomes.

"Consumers will be able to see clearly the price differential between food production costs, the farm gate price and what the consumer actually pays for a range of local produce."

Last month, some farmers in the province gathered at the Stormont Assembly to call for a 24-hour food production strike.

About 80 farmers protested over what they said were low prices and increasing red tape.

However, the call for action was not supported by the main farming unions.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's rural affairs correspondent Martin Cassidy:
"The Ulster Farmers' Union have organised this protest selling food at farmgate prices"
John Gilliland, President of the UFU:
"Hopefully we can win over the public to the plight of the farmers"
See also:

23 Aug 02 | N Ireland
30 Sep 99 | N Ireland
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