'Milk quota ring fencing must be kept'
Lakeland Dairies chief insists status quo is essential for Ireland to hit 2020 target
The retention of milk quota ring fencing and the current quota trading system will be essential if Ireland is to achieve the 50pc growth in milk production set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report, Lakeland Dairies chief executive Michael Hanley has claimed.
The expansion in output would have to be achieved on a sustainable basis that ensured profitability both for dairy farmers and their processing co-operatives, the Lakeland boss said.
While there have been calls in some quarters for the removal of milk quota ring fencing to allow production capacity to move freely, Mr Hanley insisted that this would not be in the best interests of the industry.
"To ensure that our dairy farmers have the best prospects for growth and development, it is essential that the present quota trading system and quota ring fencing will remain in place until 2015," Mr Hanley said.
Realising the Food Harvest targets would also require maximum efficiency in dairy processing, selling and marketing, he added.
Mr Hanley expects the medium-to long- term prospects for world dairy markets to remain reasonably good. He predicted that Irish milk prices would remain stable within current price ranges during 2011.
"The medium- and long-term prospects for world dairy markets remain reasonably good. The increased competitiveness of Irish exports from the fall in value of the euro is welcome," Mr Hanley said.