Speaking after a meeting of the IFA National Liquid Milk Committee, Chairman John Finn urged all liquid milk producers to attend the IFA National Liquid Milk Rally, which will be opened by IFA President Joe Healy in Portlaoise’s Heritage Hotel on Tuesday 25th October, 8pm.
He said this is important to strengthen the hand of producer groups negotiating 2016/17 winter prices, but also to demand more transparent, sustainable and fairer remuneration for liquid milk for years to come, so that consumers can be certain to find locally produced quality fresh milk on their supermarket’s shelves.
“The Liquid Milk Committee members were angry, because their income and cash flow have been crippled for the last 18 months, and because it is proving unreasonably difficult to negotiate the necessary increases in winter milk prices or premiums to offset even some of the impact from uneconomically low base milk prices,” Mr Finn said.
“Fresh milk produced and sold in the Republic or Ireland is worth €400m to the dairy sector – that’s 13% of our dairy export earnings, and it is worth nurturing. In the context of Brexit, it would be foolish to damage our national capacity to supply our domestic fresh milk market by pushing all producers into export-oriented spring milk production,” he said.
“However, the truth is, more and more specialist farmers are voting with their feet. In 2015, the number of autumn dairy calf births fell 16%, while the number of dairy births for the whole year rose 8.5%. We are seeing this trend continue this autumn, with dairy births for September to mid-October already back 15.8% on last year,” he said.
“On Tuesday night next, we will hear from Peter Farrell, a young farmer who, with his father David, a man committed for decades to liquid milk, decided to transition to spring milk production, and cease producing milk for the domestic drinking market. He will explain the cold hard economic facts which pushed them to go down that road,” he said.
“More generally, we will show that a fairer distribution of the margins in the market can pay farmers fairly and sustainably. This message must be taken on board by the entire chain, from dairy to retailer to consumer, and by the regulators to ensure the continuity of quality, locally produced milk supplies, and avoid too many more farmers being forced to make the choice Peter and his Dad had to,” he concluded.