Sep 072015

Speaking in Brussels where he addressed thousands of EU milk suppliers, the President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Mr. John Comer said that the task facing the Ministers attending the Farm Council meeting and the Commission is two-fold: Firstly, a realistic floor price had to be put under milk price immediately and that was going to require the implementation of a range of measures that will deliver a milk price of at least 28 cents per litre and, secondly, a process of reform had to begin designed to ensure that primary producers of all farm products receive a fair portion of the final retailer price.  The ICMSA leader noted that although milk prices has fallen to dairy farmers by over 35% right across the EU in the last year consumers are paying almost exactly the same price for milk, butter and cheese as they did a year ago. Mr Comer noted that an average Irish dairy farmer working their normal 60 hour-week has, to the end of August, earned €2300 less than someone on minimum wage.

“As it stands now, ICMSA is predicting that Irish milk suppliers will be paid €580m less in 2015 than they received in 2014. The key question is who has benefited from this reduction in farm milk price – because it’s certainly not the consumer who’s paying exactly the same. We’re left with the ‘middle men’ and, most specifically, we’re left with the gigantic food retail corporations who are managing the oversupply situation on the global market in a way that ‘bricks-off’ their margins from market volatility while wiping-out farmers’ income. A situation where milk suppliers are receiving a price that’s less than the cost of producing the milk is untenable – and everyone knows that. It is a scandalous abuse that needs to be tackled once and for all”, said the ICMSA President.

Mr. Comer said that farmers desperately need some signal from the Commission and the Ministers that they understand that this cycle of destructive price and income volatility can’t go on and fundamental reform is required that levels the pitch and stops the kind of commercial abuse of the EU’s farmers and primary producers by a cartel of food retail corporations who manipulate the own margins in a way that wipes out everyone behind them back – in our case, all the way back to the cow.  The only solution to this absolutely destructive cycle is the introduction of a system that guarantees farmers a fairer share of final retail price.  It could easily be done and done,  moreover, on an EU-wide basis by a Commission with the courage and conviction to face up to the supermarket corporations who hide behind the ‘cheap food’ policy and dictate prices backwards to the farmers and forward to the consumers from a privileged position seemingly unhindered by politicians and policymakers.”


Ends.      7 September 2015.

John Comer, 087-2057846,

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office