Louth IFA urges co-ops to hold milk price following challenging winter for farmers
Louth IFA Dairy Chairman Nicholas Cooney has said that co-op boards will meet in the coming days to decide on February milk prices and consider the year ahead.
He has urged them, as farmers count the cost of the snowstorm and a very long, challenging winter, to first hold the February milk price, and then develop a strategy which will keep a ‘3’ in front of the base milk price for all of 2018.
“Long term, expansion cannot be expected to be its own reward, co-ops must optimise market returns and prices,” he said.
“The last 12 months have been generally wetter than average, cows were brought in early last year, and an already late turn out this spring will have been further delayed by the snowstorm and ice in most parts of the country.
"Fodder reserves, already challenged in many areas, are diminishing rapidly,” Mr Cooney said.
He continued, "Interrupted milk collections, frozen water pipes increasing milking times, frozen diesel in tractor tanks, collapsed sheds, difficulties keeping animals fed and watered and newly born calves warm – these are only some of the challenges dairy farmers have faced through the blizzard conditions of snow storm Emma last week.
"Now, they have to count the cost, and make all the repairs required, with calving still at peak."
He went on, “Farmers appreciated hugely the massive efforts made by co-ops, their staff, hauliers, local authorities and also fellow-farmers in ensuring as much of the milk as possible was collected despite the horrendous conditions.
"However, farmers will need every bit of their February milk cheque to cover the cost of the last week alone. Co-ops must hold the February milk price,” he said.
“For the longer term, co-ops must understand that, from a farmers’ perspective, industry planning can no longer be purely supply-driven, with expansion expected to be its own reward.
"It must be about identifying and servicing market needs for sustainably produced high quality dairy products, and optimising the returns for Irish farmers.
“I believe that holding the February price and setting out to pay a base price over 30c/l, not on average, but throughout 2018 would create the right conditions for farmers to deliver to their full potential for the Irish economy, and with the right supports, to do more for climate mitigation,” Nicholas Cooney concluded.