Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

My week: 'A milk price of between 34c/l and 36c/l would be fair for everyone'

Lorcan McCABE,, Bailieborough, Co Cavan - farmer and ICMSA officer

Lorcan McCabe
Lorcan McCabe

Lorcan McCabe, a get-on-with-it type of dairy farmer, doesn't approve of what he labels 'whingeing' about negative milk and beef prices.

"Listen. Whingeing is the wrong way to go about things for farmers or in any walk of life for that matter. You're going to have good years and bad years in farming but instead of whingeing all the time people should look on the bright side," he says.

"In the good years you can invest in the farm or machinery and in the bad years you just cut back."

Lorcan farms 100ac with an additional 30 leased acres outside Bailieborough in Co Cavan, supplying milk to Lakelands from his 75-cow herd which is mainly Friesian.

It's been a busy few weeks for the father of four.

The bookkeeper is currently running the rule over the farm accounts and Loran, an ICMSA executive member, is crossing his fingers that a recent lobby of the economic Ministers, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin is successful.

"I like to do the accounts in October and November so you know what tax bill you have to cater for. I don't wait until January because I just I don't like surprises", Loran says

The pre- budget lobby of the economic Ministers was useful, he says.

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"Noonan and Howlin were very upbeat. They were not jumping up and down but they were in great form. Certainly they were in the best form I have seen them in for the past four years."

Whether the Ministers are upbeat enough to satisfy the ICMSA demand for a change in the tax laws on land leasing will become clear in today's Budget.

"Look, the situation at the moment allows any private person or company to lease my land without any tax implications for them. But if my son, Sean, wants to do the same thing he faces a tax bill. It just wrong and it's no way to keep the younger farmers on the land", he says.

The McCabe children - Laura (21), who is finishing a degree in International Studies and French at DCU; Sean (19) a first year DCU accountancy student, and Andrea (16) and Shannon (14), who attend the local Bailieborough college, also keep Sean busy.

"I was in Dublin last week and had to buy a bike for Sean to get him from his accommodation to the college and the two young girls have to be collected late from school as they are singing in 'My Fair Lady', this year's musical at the school. Andrea has the lead role of Eliza Doolittle and Shannon is in the chorus. When I am out and about for the kids my wife Brid takes my place in the farm.

"She works locally and was brought up on a farm so she is well able to keep things going when I am off in the jeep or at meetings", Lorcan explains.

Apart from general farm maintenance which takes place at this time of the year Lorcan is also busy converting a shed to cublicle units.

So what's his prediction for the overall 2016 milk price? Things are going to be tough next year, especially in Spring. It probably won't go any lower than 24c/l so that puts buying any new machinery on hold.

"That price is likely to continue for the year. Ideally a price of between 34c/l and 36c/l would be fair for both the producer and the consumer but going over 40c/l would put milk and milk ingredients into the luxury bracket and consumers would start looking at alternative sources for ingredients like soya.

But there won't be any whingeing from Lorcan about the situation - that's verboten.

Indo Farming