Farm Ireland

Monday 22 January 2018

Monthly quota plot slammed by ICMSA

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Dairy processors have been accused of attempting to introduce monthly quotas as part of the drive to level milk supplies across the year.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill said farmers were extremely worried about the level of penalties proposed for milk supplied in the peak months which have been included in milk seasonality schemes such as those proposed by Dairygold and Glanbia.

"A 100,000-litre supplier to Glanbia could face a fine of €5,000-6,000 for only a minor over-supply, less than 1pc, in the peak months," Mr Cahill claimed at the association's AGM in Limerick on Saturday.

"Now that the small print in these schemes is being read, farmers are extremely concerned that the co-ops are effectively introducing monthly quotas.

"Instead of only worrying about March 31 every year, farmers will also have to worry about June 30 and December 31."

ICMSA dairy chairman Pat McCormack added: "These seasonality schemes essentially introduce peak, spring and end-of-year quotas for a period when farmers were looking forward to 2015 and the ending of the quota regime."

ICMSA officials are to meet with Glanbia representatives next Monday to voice their concerns about the level of penalties involved in its seasonality scheme.

Mr Cahill called on co-ops to offer proper incentives to farmers to produce extra milk in the off-peak months, instead of penalising production in the peak periods.

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"We want co-ops to use the carrot approach instead of the stick to flatten the curve," he said.

Farmers at the AGM urged their representatives to battle the seasonality scheme penalties "tooth and nail" in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the ICMSA is to fight to ensure that farmers retain ownership of their milk quota or production rights post-2015.

"A lot of farmers bought milk dear and it is just inconceivable that it will disappear in 2015," said Mr Cahill.

"We want to make sure that the co-op cannot take ownership of a farmer's quota," he insisted.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney appeared to support this view when he told the farmers at the AGM that they had a lot of power at the moment because they owned their quota.

Speaking from the floor, the ICMSA's Dominic Cronin said milk suppliers located in peripheral areas supplying milk to co-ops with insufficient processing capacity were worried about securing favourable milk contracts post-2015.

However, Mr Coveney assured him that his Department did not want a situation where co-ops could simply strike a farmer off if he didn't sign a contract.

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