Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 24 June 2017

Cow exports double in battle to beat levy

Dramatic rise as co-ops report milk supplies still over quota

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The number of dairy cow exports more than doubled in the first eight months of this year as dairy farmers try to avoid massive superlevy fines.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that this trend has escalated dramatically, with more than 2,000 cows over two years of age shipped out of the country over the past eight weeks. This is more than quadruple the number exported during the same period last year.

The numbers will come as no surprise to dairy bosses who report that their co-ops are still as much as 8pc over quota for the quota year to date. However, many are beginning to report some slight easing in supplies.

Glanbia said that it was 7.8pc over quota as of the end of last month, while its Premier milk pool was 5.9pc over quota, leaving the co-op nearly 72m litres over quota so far this year.

Dairygold is in an almost identical position, at 7.7pc over quota for the 2011-2012 quota year to date. Tipperary reports that it is 8-9pc over quota but that the last week in September was the first time the co-op saw supplies fall behind last year's levels.

Kerry is 2.2pc over quota and the co-op said that milk supplies are beginning to slow with worsening grazing conditions. It is currently 15m litres over quota, an improvement of nearly six million litres when compared to the end of August.

The Border county co-ops, such as Town of Monaghan and Lakeland, said that they are around 2pc over quota, with supplies also beginning to ease.

However, demand for quota is sky-high, with very small amounts reported to be available for the upcoming quota trading scheme, which is due to close for offers this Friday.

West Cork co-ops are under more pressure, with Bandon running at 7.7pc over and Barryroe 6pc over. Wexford is 4pc over but said that supplies were slightly lower in the past three weeks when compared with last year.

CSO figures released last week showed that milk supplies were nearly 4pc or 20m litres higher during August this year compared to last year.

Well-known cattle shipper Adam Buitelaar said that he shipped five loads of fresh calved and in-calf cows in the past week alone.

"The commercial types are making anywhere from €1,000-1,400," he said.

"We're certainly doing bigger volumes than this time last year but I still don't think that enough farmers who are over quota have grasped the nettle on this one. In my view, the smart guys are the ones who are selling now."

Up to 60pc of sales at autumn-calved cow auctions around the country are being snapped up by Northern Irish buyers at the moment.

Louth based auctioneer Michael Taaffe said he doesn't expect prices to strengthen any further for fresh calved stock.

"The range in Carnaross last week was €1,300-3,100, with the bulk of good 7,500-litre heifers selling for €1,600-1,800. The majority are going north or across the water," he said.

"The export trade is putting a floor in the trade at the moment," said Kildare based auctioneer Colin Johnson.

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