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IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Tom Phelan said that analysis by the Committee of co-ops’ milk prices had shown that most had failed to pass back the full value of the Ornua PPI since last May.  The Committee is seeking a commitment by co-op board members that they will hold the milk price for at least all of the winter months.

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IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Tom Phelan said the decisions for September milk prices had been disappointingly cautious in light of the fact that many co-ops still pay less than the Ornua PPI, never mind the September EU returns as reported by the EU Milk Market Observatory.

He said the same excessive caution was applied by most for their August milk price.  This was bitterly disappointing for farmers, at a time when Teagasc predicts a 50% drop in 2018 dairy farm incomes, and many farmers still have fodder deficits which will be costly to offset over the winter.  The least co-ops could do was to make a clear commitment to, at worst, hold their current milk price till spring.

“Farmers have delivered significantly higher volumes of milk in both August and September, despite the huge human and cash flow challenges caused by the vagaries of the weather and the difficulties and cost of keeping cows fed.  By stalling milk prices from August while many of their European counterparts (Friesland Campina, Arla, Lactalis…) were flagging price uplifts right up to October, and in some cases to year end, Irish co-ops have disappointingly let down their suppliers, and bagged large volumes of cheaper milk to boost trade,” Mr Phelan said.

“We understand that market circumstances for the months ahead are more uncertain, with the challenges of global trade wars and Brexit in particular.  However, IFCN’s CEO Torsten Hemme, at the organisation’s annual conference in Italy in September predicted clearly that global demand for milk would continue to outpace supply for the coming months and years, which should underpin strong dairy and milk prices,” he added.

“I urge all co-ops to take a good look at the situation of their milk suppliers, and to support them through to the end of one of the most challenging years this generation of farmers has ever experienced, to commit solidly to, at worst, holding current milk prices to spring 2019.”

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Tom Phelan today (Tuesday) pointed out that, other than the 4 West Cork Co-ops, no other Irish milk purchasers had returned the August Ornua PPI equivalent price of 31.78c/l + VAT for 3.3% protein and 3.6% butterfat milk, never mind the September 32.70c/l + VAT average returns for dairy products, as reported by the EU Milk Market Observatory (see graph below left).  He added that, as European milk purchasers were continuing to raise milk prices for September, October, and in some cases to year end, farmers in Ireland were entitled to wonder whether they were being short-changed by their co-ops in one of the toughest years for cash flow and morale.  1c/l on September milk is fully justified, and should be paid on base prices by all co-ops.

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Speaking after this week’s IFA National Dairy Committee meeting, Chairman Tom Phelan said representatives from all around the country were vocal and frustrated: dairy farmers’ backs are to the wall, and only higher milk prices – starting with 1c/l for August milk – will help with the massive expenditure increase on fodder and feed necessary to keep the milk flowing. 

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IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Tom Phelan today (Wednesday) said co-op board members would meet in coming days to decide on their August milk prices and consider the situation to year end.

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