As the GDT auction showed another 2.8% fall this week, IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin led an IFA Dairy delegation to meet with Department of Agriculture Secretary General Aidan O’Driscoll and some of his senior officials. The IFA delegation set out a very strong case for the earliest possible reconvening of the Dairy Forum. Also on the IFA delegation were National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary, Acting General Secretary Bryan Barry and IFA Dairy Executive Catherine Lascurettes.
“We have made a persuasive case that all stakeholders need to be brought together at this stage, to co-ordinate necessary strategic action by industry, banks, Teagasc and Government. This is vital, as farmers will receive their first meaningful milk cheque of the year for February milk in March, and find their cash flow severely constrained by low constituents, lower volumes and the need for greater expenditure on feed,” Mr Bergin said.
Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary added: “Even with unchanged base milk prices, farmers could see their February milk cheque return 6c/l less than their last cheque in November. We have been highlighting the severe cash flow problems this will create for several months now, and need to see joined-up action by co-ops, Teagasc, banks and Government, to provide farmers with continued price and budgeting support and short term finance options over the coming few months”.
“Also, yesterday’s EU Agriculture Council set up an important discussion for the next Council meeting in March on what measures may be needed to deal with the continuing impact on EU dairy farmers of the prolonged market downturn. It is vital that the industry would have a well thought out input in this matter, at a time when some member states are seeking EU measures to penalise increased production”.
“It is vital that Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney would recognise the serious issues facing dairy farmers for the short and medium term, and facilitate the earliest possible meeting of the Dairy Forum, to increase the focus of all the parties involved on the need to support dairy farmers through a prolonged period of low market returns. He must also ensure that the Dairy Forum provides an environment for the sector to learn from the current difficulties and develop more instruments and strategies to help farmers manage their businesses through long term volatility,” he concluded.