The extent of what the ICMSA President, Mr. John Comer, has described as “a disastrous two years” for Irish farming was made clear today with the release of the CSO’s 2016 Advance Estimate Figures on Output, Input and Income in Agriculture. The figures are very stark indeed and show a fall of €339 million in the value of the milk produced between 2014 and 2016 despite the volume growing by some 4.7% in 2016. Mr. Comer said that the situation where dairy farmers were working harder for massively reduced income – or even no income at all – had been made clear and he said that measures to curb this ruinous price volatility and the margin-grabbing by corporations that this volatility enabled, must be urgently considered. ICMSA had raised this matter again at yesterday’s Dairy Forum and the ICMSA President urged Minister Creed to demand of the Commission that the Voluntary Milk Production Reduction Scheme be made an automatic response where prices to farmers fell below the cost of production. It was no longer acceptable, said the ICMSA President, to have a situation where everyone in the supply chain from the farm gate onwards was able to keep or increase their own profit margins while the farmer-producer was wiped out to the extent that these figures demonstrated.
On the beef sector, the ICMSA President said that the figures between 2015 and 2016 showed a sector whose value of output had fallen by 2.1% despite a 3.6% volume growth highlighting a similar situation where farmers are producing more but getting penalised on price.
Mr. Comer said that pattern clearly identifiable from the figures was the old story, where farmers were working harder to produce more while the value of their work – and their incomes – fell steadily. That this occurred at a time when the value and profits of the corporations involved in the food supply chain were steadily rising could not be a coincidence and he called on the policymakers to use these CSO figures as the basis on which to move towards a fairer and more stable income for the farmer food producers who were, he reminded everyone, the foundation on which all the other links depended.
Ends 8 December 2016.
John Comer, 087-2057846
ICMSA Press Office