ICMSA is now estimating that dairy farmers’ incomes could fall by in excess of €800 million in the two years from 2014 and they have confirmed that this will be their focus in the forthcoming General Election. The President of ICMSA, John Comer, said that the Government’s role on this particular issue had to move past that of spectator and a much more concerted effort had to be made at Commission level given the massive economic ‘knock-on’ that milk price had in our wider rural economy
“The scale of the fall in dairy farmers’ incomes is illustrated very starkly if we take 2014 and note that dairy farmer incomes fell €530 million in 2015 and we are now estimating a further fall of €280 million from that 2014 base”, said Mr Comer. “The Government and the EU Commission need to very quickly wake up to this reality and introduce measures that will stabilise the situation for the sector because dairy farmers across the EU are in exactly the same position”, he said.
“Let people be in no doubt about this” he warned, “many individual farmers will go to the wall unless action is taken and it’s going to be particularly unfortunate to see many people that were encouraged to invest by the Government, milk processors and the banks on the back of milk quota abolition being ruined by a milk price that’s hopelessly below the cost of production and an official attitude that is just wholly and demonstrably inadequate to the scale of the challenge. The sector is heading into a very dangerous period and the Government and the EU Commission have a clear responsibility to ensure that family farms are some way protected and not just left abandoned to the whims of processors, retail corporations and huge multinationals who set the global market and operate to their own agenda”, said the ICMSA President.
“The attitude of the key policymakers seems to be one of keeping the head down and hoping the problem will magically go away. The reality facing us dairy farmers is very different: we will start 2016 producing milk well below the cost of production and, at this stage and unless necessary action is taken, we’re likely to be doing so for the rest of this year. The measures adopted following the EU Farm Council that met on 7 September 2015 are now exposed as totally insufficient; the base milk price has continued to fall following the introduction of the new measures and no serious observer now thinks they’re going to be anywhere near enough to stabilise the situation”, he said
“Right now, we need to see the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine working to gain sufficient support for additional measures at EU level and those measures must begin with raising the intervention price to a realistic level of at least 28 cents per litre and the re-opening of the Russian market fort EU dairy products. The Russian market was closed to EU dairy producers as part of a political row but the costs incurred have fallen more or less exclusively on dairy farmers. The supply/demand situation needs to be rebalanced and the EU Commission needs to be much more proactive and fundamental about that getting that process underway. Irish dairy farmers will have lost €800 million in income in just two years unless milk price is stabilised and begins to climb. We can’t take that and neither can the rural economies that depend on our spend”, he concluded. “Make no mistake: this is going to be an General Election issue on rural doorsteps”, concluded Mr Comer
Ends 15 January 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office