IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan this week wrote to all co-ops Chairmen and CEOs on behalf of the Committee, which met on Monday.
The letter, which the Committee requested be read at the next board meeting, expressed appreciation of the support provided thus far by most co-ops, but stressed that the crisis is not over yet, and farmers need continued support.
Mr Phelan said, “Farmers need the co-ops to stand behind them in this difficult period. The best way they can demonstrate this support is through the milk price they pay.
“Our Committee members voiced their strong views that co-ops must continue to back farmers despite challenging markets.
“Dairy farmers have just gone through their eighth month of winter this April, which started early for many last September. Soil and air temperatures have been slow to rise, and many farms are still struggling to keep cows out day and night over a month later than normal.
“Milk cheques have been depressed by price cuts, but also by lower volumes and constituents. Feed costs have increased massively as farmers have had to cope with the fodder crisis. The workload has not eased after the intensely busy calving period, and this is further compounded by labour shortages on many farms.
“Farmers are stressed, exhausted, worried about their ability to meet their financial commitments, and facing burn-out. Some co-ops are so aware of this that they have included the contact details of the Samaritans in their newsletters.
“This is why it is vital that co-ops would find ways, this month again, to support their suppliers by minimising any further adjustment to the payout on April milk supplies.
“I urge the management and board of every co-op, when deciding the April milk price, to take due account of the exceptional circumstances and the unprecedented levels of stress being experienced by dairy farmers this spring,” Tom Phelan concluded.