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Milk Prices Must Rise Now To Safeguard Irish Dairy

18 February 2010

IRELAND - Following an Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) organised Dairy Forum attended by representatives of the whole industry, a detailed programme of EU and national action to assist milk prices in 2010 will be pursued immediately with the Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith.

After the meeting, IFA President John Bryan said the dairy industry must deliver viable milk prices to producers. “Action at EU, Government and industry level is immediately required to overcome the current market uncertainties.”

He said, “Our Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and his Department must deal with the sector’s concerns as a matter of urgency, bearing in mind its potential as an indigenous industry which can act as an engine of recovery for the Irish economy.”

The IFA President said that the Minister must secure a public commitment from new Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos that no further intervention stock will be released until market prices are at a level that provides a sustainable return for producers. He said there must be careful stock management of both intervention and APS to avoid market disturbance, a review of the Deprived Persons scheme must be immediately undertaken, and greater flexibility in the introduction of export refunds.

Among the national measures required is Government action to reduce the cost of doing business in Ireland. The recent decision to introduce a carbon tax came in for serious criticism as it will impact negatively on industry competitiveness at several levels.

The Dairy Forum clearly identified banking and credit as issues that must be addressed at Government level to ensure liquidity in the sector in 2010.

Mr Bryan said, “Minister Smith must convince the EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos that EU and Irish dairy farmers cannot operate at world or support prices. The very future of the sector is at stake, and the high-level group currently meeting must come forward with meaningful market and other proposals to protect the family farming sector in Ireland and across the EU sector.”

Speaking at the Forum, IFA National Dairy Chairman Kevin Kiersey reminded dairy processors that the future viability of family farms was dependent on a decent price for milk in 2010. Milk producers absolutely needed to see their prices return to viability as soon as possible, as none could afford another year of accummulated losses like 2009. “Farmers need an immediate price increase of 2c/l, to progress some way towards the 28c/l minimum needed to break even. This is about co-ops investing in the badly shaken confidence of their shareholder suppliers,” Mr Kiersey said.

Kevin Kiersey also urged co-ops to engage actively and deliver promptly on a consolidation plan for the industry: “Only a more efficient, less fragmented industry will be fit for the new market realities. It will also be far better able to deliver a stronger milk price. Its milk producer owners must see progress, decisions and actions on industry consolidation, co-operation and cost cutting over the coming weeks and months,” he said.

The Forum also agreed that Ireland needs to invest more heavily in branding and marketing our sustainable food production systems and the Government must ensure that ‘Ireland, the Food Island’ becomes synonymous with quality and sustainability in the minds of Europe’s 500m consumers.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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