Gap between dairy farmer incomes and those of processors highlighted
The gap between dairy farmer incomes and those of the "processing and marketing" sectors was highlighted by the massive hike in profits announced by Ornua for 2016, the ICMSA claimed this week.
Operating profits at the co-op-owned business jumped 46pc to €26.6m last year, with turnover up 9pc to €1.75bn.
While welcoming Ornua's strong results, ICMSAs Gerald Quain noted that the surge in profits was delivered against a backdrop of collapsed milk prices in 2016 which had wiped out farmers' margins and incomes.
The ICMSA dairy committee chairman said it was clear "that the other links in the dairy supply chain" guarded their own margins and simply pushed any losses backwards on to the farmers.
Mr Quain said increasing profits in a year when farmers' margins were slashed highlighted the disparity between what he called the "hard pressed foundation level" of the Irish dairy sector and the "processor/marketeer level".
He called for the "co-op ethos" to be maintained and that "the pain" should be shared during periods of market downturn.
"Increasing profits in a year when farmers' incomes were at rock bottom only confirms what we already knew: every link in the supply-chain might benefit when prices are rising but only farmers' margins are wiped out in a price downturn," he said.
"This runs counter to the co-op ethos."