Family farms in danger warns ICMSA's Comer
Published 05/12/2012 | 06:00
President calls for policies to ward off dairy disaster
The family farm structure in Ireland is under major threat and policy decisions taken over the next 12 months will decide whether it will be able to survive.
This was a key message delivered by ICMSA president John Comer at the organisation's AGM in Limerick last week.
He pointed out that more than 1,700 farmers had quit dairying here in the past four years, in addition to 150,000 farmers who had got out of dairying in the EU during the same period, according to figures from the European Milk Board.
"Decisions taken must be based on protecting the family farm structure and not on the basis of providing our dairy and beef processors with the maximum amount of produce at the least possible cost," Mr Comer told farmers attending the meeting. "Food Harvest 2020 is laudable, but it won't happen unless our members can earn a reasonable income from farming," he added.
"We're often told that we should resemble the Danes' highly efficient model since it's a similar sized country with a similar tradition of dairying. However, there are 4,000 dairy farmers left in Denmark. All the rest have gone, exited, broken by overwhelming debt and a system that won't ensure that they get a margin," he said.
Mr Comer also emphasised the need for a central dairy market monitoring agency within the EU to predict and manage milk supplies.