IFA will hold its first ever Liquid Milk Forum for the liquid milk chain stakeholders tomorrow (Friday). The event, to be opened by IFA President Eddie Downey, will gather representatives from retailers, dairies, industry organisations, Government officials, Oireachtas members as well as specialist fresh milk producers.
It will be addressed by Dr Muiris OCeidigh of the National Milk Agency, Dr Joe Patton of Teagasc, Eoghan Sweeney of Aurivo, Kern Kinnear of Tesco and Teddy Cashman of the IFA National Liquid Milk Committee. Pat O’Keeffe of the Farmers’ Journal will be chairing the event.
Speaking in advance of the Forum, Eddie Downey said: “I am shocked by the contrast there is among dairy farmers at the moment: those, in a majority, supplying co-ops with manufacturing milk based on spring calving herds and grass are genuinely excited about the opportunities to supply fast growing global dairy demand after quotas are abolished in just over eight months’ time. Those, in a minority of less than 1,900, who put our fresh milk on the shelves of supermarkets all year round really worry they are taken for granted, and that there is no long-term plan to secure their continued economic sustainability”.
“This is what we want all stakeholders to understand on Friday: unless we develop a plan collectively, and improve structures and systems to secure the sustainability of specialist producers, Irish consumers will not be able, long term, to buy every day the locally produced, high quality fresh milk they are accustomed to,” Mr Downey said.
As the last speaker at the event, IFA National Liquid Milk Committee Chairman Teddy Cashman plans to challenge all the stakeholders, especially dairies, retailers and industry organisations, to come together and develop with farmers a viable Food Harvest 2020 plan for fresh milk: “To justify continuing in their higher cost, specialist production systems without which year-round fresh milk cannot be guaranteed, farmers need to receive adequate remuneration to cover their costs, including appropriate hedging against input cost inflation, and an incentive to justify the quality of life, as well as the economic cost, of producing milk every day of the year,” he said.
Mr Cashman will outline his proposed Food Harvest 2020 plan for Fresh Milk, and will call on all stakeholders to commit to work towards improving the sustainability of the sector, at a time when the end of milk quotas offers all dairy farmers more attractive and potentially remunerative options.