Minister Must Recall Dairy Forum to Plot Supportive Strategy Through Difficult Months

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary has welcomed the continued support for farmers by co-ops, which saw them hold the December milk price, and saw LacPatrick pass on a 1c/l top-up on December milk.

Mr O’Leary stressed that co-ops’ support of milk prices, together the support of other stakeholders, would clearly continue to be needed in 2016, and called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to recall the Dairy Forum in light of a longer-than-expected difficult market.

“This week’s GDT auction’s modest 1.4% price fall confirms that the current low market returns are proving to be longer lived than expected, and the 2016 recovery has some way to go. It is important that all Irish stakeholders would come together to co-ordinate a supportive strategy to guide and help dairy farmers over the coming months, while markets rebalance,” Mr O’Leary said.

“Minister Simon Coveney must urgently reconvene the Dairy Forum to bring together all stakeholders, especially co-ops, banks and Teagasc, to develop a joint strategy to allow farmers to keep their businesses afloat through the first half of 2016,” Mr O’Leary said.

“General Election candidates from all parties canvassing for rural votes will hear clearly from farmers that delivering a higher intervention safety net in Brussels, and a set of EU policies that can genuinely help farmers manage the impact of volatile incomes will be essential to the sector’s long term sustainability,” he said.

“However, right now, farmers need urgent short-term supportive measures to be delivered. For the next few months, we need co-ops to work with Teagasc and the banks to provide continued milk price supports, greater flexibility on merchant credit, bank loan repayment or interest-only holidays and extension of cash flow finance options and viable strategies to operate dairy farms through periods of low returns without damaging the future sustainability of the herd,” he said.

“Minister Coveney, who created the Dairy Forum, must ensure it survives his term as Minister and that it is reconvened within the next couple of weeks to refocus all stakeholders on the necessary support strategy,” he concluded.

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