Search is on for answers as superlevy threat grows
Dairy farmers increasingly desperate to avoid serious superlevy fines are looking at every possibility to reduce their milk deliveries before the annual deadline next March 31.
Farmers in Northern Ireland report that they have been offered up to 30,000l of milk delivered straight into their bulk tanks by their over-quota neighbours south of the border.
While the prospect of extra milk for a nominal charge is extremely tempting for any northern supplier, it is also illegal. However, other more legitimate options are also being explored.
Several dairy farmers in the northeast were reported to be looking at leasing farms in both Northern Ireland and Wales last week in an attempt to find homes for herds of up to 200 milking cows that may face culling if kept in the Republic.
"Some dairy farmers that have really pushed the boat out in recent years don't want to sell cows right now because they believe they are so close to the end of quotas," explained Louth-based auctioneer Michael Taaffe.
However, one Northern Irish dairy consultant believes that Southern producers still have not come to terms with the seriousness of the situation.
"I don't think that farmers here have addressed the superlevy problem head-on yet," said Co Down based farm consultant Jason McMinn during a visit last week with a group of Northern dairy farmers interested in buying cows from over-quota farms in Co Kilkenny, Waterford, Laois and Wicklow.
"It appears to me that everybody down here thinks that everybody else is going to cut back," he said.