'The liquid milk price for farmers had become a joke'
Cork dairy farmer Vivian Buttimer switched from liquid to manufacturing milk production last year because the prices being paid by the supermarkets had "become a joke".
Vivian, who milks 160 Holsteins at the historic Ford Farm at Ballinascarthy, outside Clonakilty, fears that the low margins in liquid milk will lead to an exodus of dairy farmers and processors from the sector.
The Department of Agriculture and its dairy agencies need do something to rebalance the margins in favours of the primary producers, he adds.
He is now getting 31.8 cents per litre of milk plus bonuses of up to three cents a litre from Lisavaird and is protected by the co-op's commercial ethos for his manufacturing milk. The best he made while supplying liquid milk was 30.07 cents per litre plus winter bonuses.
"The liquid milk suppliers are being squeezed all the time and the pricing advantage has to be taken away from the retailers says Vivian (52), who has been working on the home farm since he was 16.
"The farmers are being squeezed all the time and I can see casualties in the sector unless something is done."
Married to Jocelyn, Vivian works in partnership with his son Evan (24), a UCD graduate in dairy business, and he also has plenty of help on the farm from his parents.
His mother Hazel, a sprightly 79-year-old, helps with the milking and general farm duties and his dad Thomas also does his bit.