IFA President Joe Healy said IFA, along with commodity risk management experts FCStone, are today inviting co-op board members, management teams, stakeholder decision makers and farmers to join them, and a line-up of high calibre speakers on Wednesday 4th May, to explore practical ways in which Irish dairy farmers could benefit from risk management strategies to be developed by the sector.
“At a time when milk is selling below the cost of production, and farmers’ incomes are under huge pressure, this conference aims to focus the dairy industry on developing more tools farmers can utilise to help them manage the periods of low returns that come with price volatility,” he said.
IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said, “The stresses on farmers associated with the prolonged downturn prove that our sector cannot leave the bulk of the market risk for the farmer to carry. We need to put a lot more effort into developing means of alleviating the burden on farmers. In the short term, this needs to be by way of milk price support, and sharing of margins”.
“For the longer term, we need to build into our industry’s development strategy the provision of a suite of tools that allow farmers to smooth out their incomes over peaks and troughs. While part of this toolkit must include flexible finance from banks and responsive farm taxation from government, we will be focusing during the conference on what our industry can, and must do to help farmers manage their income risk,” he said.
“IFA has come together with FCStone to provide a better understanding of the drivers of volatility, and the types of instruments that already exist elsewhere to help farmers cope with it. We will hear from Joe and Diane Thome, who farm Redtail Ridge Dairy in Malone, Wisconsin, who will tell us how they developed their farm from 70 to 1300 cows over 20 years, thanks to a variety of hedging, margin insurance and other risk management tools”.
“Finally, a round table discussion with audience participation will aim to encourage the Irish dairy industry to develop a model for risk management tools suited to Irish dairy farmers’ needs”.