Speaking at the official opening of the GIIL milk processing facility in Belview, Waterford, Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA, congratulated GIIL and its suppliers on the fantastic facility now in place and stated that it is a strong symbol of the huge potential of the Irish dairy sector, which if probably structured, planned and supported at national and EU level will deliver for the national economy and importantly, will have a positive impact in almost every townland in the country. Given the clear movement of economic activity to the Dublin area, developments such as today are hugely positive and important from a rural perspective and the Agri-food sector stands alone in its potential to deliver economic development to all rural areas.
Mr. Comer said, that for the Belview project to be the success which everybody hopes and expects it will be, it will need a consistent supply of high quality milk which Irish dairy farmers can and will deliver provided the marketplace delivers a reasonable and fair margin for them. Dairy markets, Mr. Comer said, will have to return on a consistent basis a milk price that will allow milk suppliers earn a decent living from farming which is comparable with other sectors in the economy and we also must ensure that this milk is supplied from family farms and not factory type farms that are more prevalent in other milk producing regions of the world.
The massive investments at processing level, Mr. Comer said, is also being mirrored at farm level and it is hugely important that Government support is forthcoming as soon as possible to support farm development. In this regard, it is disappointing that at a time of major change at farm level, Teagasc, our national state advisory service has never been so under resourced from a advisory perspective and it is likely that between now and 15 May, advisors time will be taken up by the Basic Payment Scheme and its complexities. Over the next five years, while there will be significant opportunities for farmers, serious bumps in the road are likely to be faced by individual suppliers and the back up of a properly resourced skilled advisory service will be critical in this regard and is a matter that needs to be addressed by Government.
The facility opened today, Mr. Comer said, has been rightly supported by Government and we must ensure that the position of primary producers is clearly analysed and appropriate supports are put in place so that farmers can survive during the difficult periods that will inevitably arise from time to time going forward.
Today is a positive news story for the Irish dairy sector and we must ensure that the benefits flow fairly along the supply chain and in particular to the primary producer, concluded Mr. Comer.
ENDS. 05 March 2015
John Comer is at (087) 2057846