Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 19 November 2017

Warning on milk shortage as Brexit hits farms

Fresh milk for the supermarket shelf is produced 365 days a year by 1,800 specialists among our 18,000 dairy farmers. Stock Image
Fresh milk for the supermarket shelf is produced 365 days a year by 1,800 specialists among our 18,000 dairy farmers. Stock Image
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Consumers could face milk shortages because farmers aren't being paid enough to milk cows during the winter - with Brexit only making matters worse.

More than 90pc of Ireland's dairy farmers produce milk on a seasonal basis for commodities, mainly for export.

Fresh milk for the supermarket shelf is produced 365 days a year by 1,800 specialists among our 18,000 dairy farmers.

Traditionally, there has been a price premium for farmers who milk all year round, but farmers say their margin has been eroded in recent years.

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Joe Healy said the pressures on supplies could be made worse by the Brexit process.

He called for a strong strategy to keep local milk that is valued by Irish consumers on supermarket shelves.

Mr Healy said: "Article 50 will start the formal process of Britain leaving the EU. Some 26pc of milk on supermarket shelves comes from Northern Ireland.

"The IFA strategy identifies the challenges and provides solutions which can secure locally produced, high-quality fresh milk year round, while nurturing this valuable €530m market."

Also Read


IFA national liquid milk committee chairman John Finn said that when he started in liquid milk production in 1984, it was a profitable farming enterprise, with brands dominating the market and the largest volumes sold door to door.

"Things have changed. Supermarket private labels sourced through price-based tenders now dominate sales," he said.

"The cut-throat competition for market share between dairies and retailers has eroded margins to unsustainable levels."

He added that retail regulations needed to be revised to return to the prohibition of below-cost selling, and to provide for "a well-resourced and independent ombudsman to stamp out unfair trading practices".

"We propose to first establish a base line through a profiling survey of the 1,800 specialist producers, their ages, their succession plans and their intentions," he said.

He said the IFA would present this strategy to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed later this week.

Irish Independent