Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Bluebell gunslingers get ready for shootout at the milk price corral

Ken Whelan

It is a fact universally acknowledged that when a throng of Cavan dairy farmers get together the only subject of conversation is the milk price and "only" in this context means it is spoken of morning, noon and night.

And so it transpired at the Virginia show in Cavan last week where the sliding milk price was described as "brutal".

And who could blame the farmers as they watched a parade of beautifully turned out milkers at the Diageo Baileys Cow Champion of the Year competition, brazenly displaying their milky abundance.

And while it may all have been about milk solids for the Diageo judges, all the onlooking farmers could see on these beautifully turned out cows was price.

But, by any standard, the milk price is a serious matter and the visitors like MEP Mairead McGuinness and the IFA deputy leader Tim O' Leary were up to speed on the matter.

O'Leary in typical rebel county fashion promised some heat for Minister for Agriculture and fellow county man, Simon Coveney.

The men from Bluebell were planning a campaign which would be announced over the next few weeks and that campaign would not be a "single shot affair'', he promised.

"It would be continuous and every TD in Ireland now facing into a general election would be told what has to be done," he told the dairy conference which ran in tandem with the show.

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Mairead McGuinness was not thinking of single shots but of an overall package of national and EU initiatives which would cushion the dairy farmers against milk price volatility.

It seems that milk price volatility, like climate change, could be with us for some considerable time.

Given the tone of the day the former Minister for Agriculture and local Fianna Fail TD, Brendan Smith, seemed to be blissfully content to press the flesh in full knowledge that the milk price was not his problem this time around.

For the more laid back of last week's 15,000 attendance there was a super abundance of other distractions to view, with the annual Neven Maguire cook-in proving popular.

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