Lane warns of 'massive volatility'
Milk prices are entering a period of "massive volatility" and dairy farmers need to be prepared for lower returns.
The stark warning was delivered by the head of the Irish Dairy Board (IDB) Kevin Lane at a press briefing for the co-op's results for 2013.
"There is massive volatility on the way.
"We are in a period where prices have stopped increasing and are on a fairly significant downturn," the IDB boss said.
"If I was a farmer today, I would be very concerned about volatility as I look out the next five years," he added.
Mr Lane said it would be "irresponsible" of IDB management to say to farmers that "they had nothing to worry about".
He urged dairy farmers to plan for greater peaks and troughs in milk price so that they have a buffer to rely on in years where prices are low.
"I would be trying to make sure that, in a year when I'm getting an excellent return, in long-term standards, 36-39c/l ... that I was putting some of the return to one side for years when I was absolutely, certainly getting paid in the late 20s or early 30s."