The new Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Michael Creed, has been urged to quickly ‘get to grips’ with the collapsed milk price that has cost Irish dairy farmers in excess of €600 million in lost income over the last two years and has taken over €1billion out of the rural economy. Speaking after his first meeting with Minister Creed, John Comer, President of ICMSA, said that a much more proactive – even radical – approach was needed to deal with the slump that was wiping out dairy farmer income and which meant that we are now approaching a full year of farmers’ receiving a milk price considerably below the 28 cents per litre cost of production.
Mr. Comer confirmed that ICMSA had raised the possibility of an EU-funded and completely voluntary Milk Reduction Programme that would pay farmers approximately 10 cents per litre of reduction on a 2015 to 2016 basis. The scheme would be voluntary and would not obstruct farmers who wish to expand to any level. But the present situation of over-supply had to be recognised and dealt with and it was patently no longer sufficient to just tell farmers to ‘sit tight’ and wait for markets to recover almost a year after their price fell below the cost of producing the milk.
Mr. Comer said that 2016 April milk cheques were €110 million lower than in 2014 and the EU’s policy of adjusting storage volumes to try and support prices was demonstrably inadequate. Time, said Mr Comer, was a luxury that dairy farmers could no longer afford. ICMSA had also raised other issues with Minister Creed including the necessity of a vibrant live export market and the ongoing problems with TAMS approvals and payments.
Ends 19 May 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office