Speaking in Kells at the first in a series of IFA regional dairy meetings titled “Dairy 2020 – Focus on Confident Growth”, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Kevin Kiersey said farmers’ confidence had taken a major hit in recent months as price cuts have combined with weather related fodder shortages, low constituents and fast rising input costs to squeeze margins.
He urged co-ops to call an end to price cuts for 2012 and provide exceptional support for hard pressed farmers whose margins were, according to Teagasc, set to fall by at least 30% this year.
He also urged them to present their plans to purchase, process and sell the milk and secure the livelihoods of their suppliers post 2015.
The IFA meeting was also addressed by Kevin Lane, CEO of the Irish Dairy Board, Michael Hanley, CEO of Lakeland Dairies, and Catherine Lascurettes, Executive Secretary of the National Dairy Committee.
“It is very difficult for dairy farmers to look confidently to the future when their income has taken a quadruple whammy: price cuts, low constituents, fodder shortages and rising input costs. Co-ops must urgently announce an end to any further price cuts for 2012. And as global milk supplies come back into balance with solid demand, and commodity prices continue to recover, they must start planning for the earliest possible price improvements,” he said.
“For the longer term, I believe there are very positive opportunities for Irish dairy farmers on global markets. Kevin Lane of the Irish Dairy Board has clearly demonstrated at this meeting that they have done their homework and identified where they will sell our extra milk, and what products it will go into. Tonight, I also think that Michael Hanley has given his suppliers reasons to be more optimistic for the future,” he said.
“Co-ops must support their suppliers in the short term through the current horrendous times. Methods need to be developed to help farmers manage a growing business through highs and lows of price and margin volatility. To build confidence, co-ops must also convince farmers of their ability, in the long term, to deliver viable milk prices and offer farmers opportunities to confidently grow to supply fast rising global demand for dairy products,” he said.
“The Irish dairy sector has a positive story to tell. It has the scope to deliver significant value in extra jobs and revenue for the Irish economy. But this tremendous extra value can only be delivered if farmers are confident of being able to grow their production profitably,” he concluded.