Rural consumer confidence to take a hit
Consumer confidence in rural Ireland is expected to take a hit in the coming weeks and months due to the effect of both the fodder shortage and falling milk prices.
Sources close to the dairy sector said that dairy farm incomes could fall by a third this year due to lower milk prices. This, combined with the costs of the fodder crisis, would hit spending in rural communities, he said.
Irish dairy farmers are heading into peak milk production over the next three months and can expect significantly lower milk prices than last year. A number of processors have already dropped milk prices.
Milk prices are cyclical in nature and cycles have become more volatile in recent years. Last year was very strong for milk prices but lower prices are already impacting on farmers this year.
Dairygold chief executive Jim Woulfe said last week that Irish dairy farmers would face further milk price decreases in the future.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said last week that he has allocated €1.5m towards the introduction of a Fodder Import Support measure.
This measure is being introduced with immediate effect to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage such as hay, silage, haylage, from outside the island of Ireland.
The measure will operate through the dairy co-ops. It will cover forage imported by the co-ops between April 5 and April 30 and will be subject to EU State Aid rules.