Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lane blasts 'nonsense' of dairy sales strategy

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Competition between Irish dairy companies on international markets was undermining returns to both co-ops and farmers, the ICOS national conference was told.

Irish Dairy Board (IDB) chief executive Kevin Lane said it was "nonsense" that the organisation was representing just 60pc of the dairy industry.

Mr Lane claimed that there was no long-term benefit in individual companies selling independent of the IDB and making what he described as a "quick buck here and there".

He accepted that the IDB would have to "walk the walk" and prove that it can give the best return for dairy processors and farmers in terms of price.

The IDB leader said a full assessment of the entire business had been undertaken over the past year and he aimed to present a three-year growth strategy to the company's board in December.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith told conference delegates that the end of milk quotas in 2015 represented an exceptional opportunity to increase milk output.

Mr Smith insisted that the dairy sector would play a crucial role in the delivery of the growth targets identified in the Food Harvest 2020 report.

He said the 50pc rise in milk production, which is a key goal of the report, was "achievable" but he insisted that stakeholders in the sector would have to act in a coherent way to increase efficiency and reduce costs both at farm and processor level.

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Mr Smith also said that the challenge in this area is primarily one for the industry. The recently established Dairy Expansion Activation Group, under the chairmanship of Dr Sean Brady, will assist the process in identifying the points on the roadmap and the issues to be addressed on the expansion journey.

"It is clear that prospects over the medium to long term are positive, given anticipated developments in world population and economic growth.

"The dairy sector in Ireland must position itself to exploit the opportunities arising from these developments, and I am confident that ICOS can continue to play a leadership role in that regard," Mr Smith said.

Irish Independent