Speaking after visiting Dairygold, Arrabawn, North Cork, Boherbue, Fealesbridge and Newtownsandes Co-ops this week, IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary said he had clearly acknowledged during 2015 the support co-ops had given to milk prices. He said he took the view, which no co-op he had met thus far had disagreed with, that such support will continue to be needed for the early part of 2016 until markets rebalance and prices recover later in the year.
“We have planned our January/February series of meetings with dairy co-ops in order to lobby and encourage them to hold and support milk prices, and to continue supporting farmers through flexible merchant credit, keenly priced inputs, and assistance in budgeting and managing their finances. We have also asked all co-ops to give farmers a strong price signal for the early part of the year, and to front load any milk price support to that period to help producers plan a challenging cash flow,” Mr O’Leary said.
“We are also asking co-ops to take stock after a strong period of investment, and to see what more can be done to increase co-operation with other milk processors, in order to consolidate efficiencies and improve their ability to return sustainable milk prices in the longer term,” he added.
“I am encouraged to find out during our visits that an increasing number of co-ops are now offering voluntary fixed milk price schemes through which their suppliers can lock in a price for a portion of their milk. Hence, Dairygold have now joined with Glanbia, Kerry, Aurivo, Carbery, and North Cork in offering such an option, while other co-ops are exploring possibilities in this area,” he said.
“Finally, I believe there is a lot co-ops and IFA can do together to help dairy farmers through the challenges of extreme volatility. In particular, through the Dairy Forum, which we have asked Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to reconvene before the General Election, we can develop a co-ordinated action by banks, Teagasc and other stakeholders to assist farmers with more flexibility on bank repayments, more competitively priced finance, and with viable production advice which allows farmers reduce costs short term without harming the long term sustainability of their herds,” he concluded.
The IFA round of meetings with dairy co-ops is now almost complete, with only a few yet to be met in early February.