Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 30 March 2017

Fresh milk producers in strike threat over prices

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Some individual liquid milk farmers have called on the IFA Liquid Milk Committee to consider a widespread withdrawal of milk supplies over the coming months.
Some individual liquid milk farmers have called on the IFA Liquid Milk Committee to consider a widespread withdrawal of milk supplies over the coming months.

Irish consumers could face fresh milk shortages this winter, with some dairy farmers calling for a 'strike' to highlight the lack of profitability in liquid milk production.

Some individual liquid milk farmers - those who produce milk for supermarket shelves - have called on the IFA Liquid Milk Committee to consider a widespread withdrawal of milk supplies over the coming months.

However, IFA Liquid chairman John Finn said the organisation would prefer not go to that extreme if it can help it.

"We want to go through the communication process first before we even think of that," he said.

One liquid milk supplier who spoke at the IFA Liquid Milk Conference said he left liquid milk production as it simply did not pay. Peter Farrell, who farms in Meath with his father, and milks 190 cows, said liquid milk farmers needed about 40c a litre (40c/l) annually to compensate for the extra expense and work involved.

However, Mr Finn said that while some farmers were calling for a 'strike', it was not the answer the IFA was looking for.

"Liquid milk can't be taken for granted. There are higher costs involved in producing this milk, as it's year-round production. Liquid suppliers are getting around 39-41c/l at the moment for the winter months and their annual milk price works out around 31-31c/l."

Liquid milk producers, he said, needed at least 40c/l for the year and the IFA was looking for them to receive 55c/l for the winter months to balance out the extra costs incurred.


"We just want a better price share. Coke costs about 120c/l and milk costs 92c/l," he said.

Competition

The National Milk Agency, which regulates the supply of fresh milk for liquid consumption in Ireland, says that competition between supermarkets has pushed down the price Irish dairy farmers are receiving for their milk in recent years.

It estimates the average litre of milk sells for 92c/l in shops, a drop of 1c/l on 2014 prices. Of that, liquid milk farmers received an average of 32c/l last year - down 16pc on 2014 prices.

Ireland has one of the highest per capita consumption rates of fresh drinking milk in the world; last year we drank 601 million litres of milk, the highest consumption level on record.

The fresh milk market in Ireland had an estimated retail value of €547m in 2015.

Irish Independent