April Milk Production Lift Must Be Taken in Context

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary today (Fri) said that the CSO April milk production figure, which shows a significant 14.5% increase on the same month last year, must be considered in its full context. Milk supplies for a single month are not significant in isolation, they must be considered in the round of a full year. In this respect, the CSO figures show supplies for the January-April were 4.2% up and the EU Commission’s own forecast for the full year 2015 is that Ireland’s milk supplies would increase by 4%.

“In the post quota era, Irish dairy farmers are engaged in and committed to a process of ongoing improvement of efficiency and sustainability. While they have plans to expand, those have been proven to be modest and incremental. The April production uplift should not be over interpreted: it has been caused by a number of factors,” Mr O’Leary said.

“To minimise superlevy, some milk had been held back in the last couple of days of March 2015, which would have tipped into, and been accounted for as April supplies,” he said.

“Also, weather, and therefore production conditions in early April were exceptionally good, and it looks like our peak production period may have come forward a couple of weeks as a result. A major cooling down of temperatures in late April and May, I believe, will have slowed down the rate of production growth into May,” he added.

“Furthermore, there is strong anecdotal evidence that the rate of production growth was regionally differentiated, with some of the Southern co-ops reporting much stronger production increases than milk purchasers further North,” he said.

“There is no doubt that we are seeing here the first visible impact of the end of quotas, but the longer term trends will always depend on the profitability of milk production – which is currently being challenged by milk prices 22% lower than their 2014 peak,” he concluded.

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