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Independent.ie

Sunday 24 June 2018

How this college is helping dairy farmers combat price volatility

Maria Herlihy

Education programmes for dairy farmers to enable them to acquire new skillsets to increase awareness of the implications of price volatility is the brainchild of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) in collaboration with Cork County Council.

Price and income volatility is now a well-established challenge in the dairy sector. Extremely low dairy product prices can cause many financial problems for dairy farmers which could ultimately threaten solvency, while extremely high prices can result in product substitution which can then be difficult or impossible to reverse.

Dairy produce buyers prefer to conduct business with more price stable sectors due to the benefits that product price stability can bring to financial planning and customer relationships. This preference for price stability has seen buyers favour the implementation of fixed-price contracts and a move towards products displaying lower levels of price variability. 

In an effort to enhance sustainability and competitiveness within the industry, there are numerous tools which can help manage volatility. These tools range from diversification, forward contracts, dairy derivative contracts and insurance to policy initiatives. 

However, no one tool is suitable to all members in the supply chain and thus a suite of tools and mechanisms has developed. The use of these tools is conditional on those in the sector understanding their use and role in managing price and income volatility.  

Dr Declan O'Connor, Department of Mathematics in CIT said they particularly interested in engaging with the various stakeholders, including farmers, on the structure and content of education offerings which will form part of our Farm Education) programme.

In an effort to ascertain as broad a range of views as possible, County Cork based dairy farmers are being offered the opportunity to attend one of these information and consultation events. One such information evening will be held at the Wallis Arms Hotel in Millstreet on Wednesday, April 18 at 7.30pm.

A further meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 25 at the Firgrove Hotel in Mitchelstown. 

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Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Declan Hurley, is again encouraging Cork's dairy farmers to attend and has highlighted the importance of their perspectives on these educational offerings.

"As a dairy farmer myself I am only too familiar with the uncertainties of this industry. As such, I am very pleased to announce Cork County Council's support for such a fitting project. I look forward to the dairy sector of Cork sharing its views and examining such options," he said.


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