‘Co-ops need to show solidarity with hard-pressed farmers’

Co-ops need to show solidarity with hard-pressed farmers by not dropping the price of milk for March supplies, according to Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard.

Last month, saw a number of processors deciding to drop their respective February milk prices.

Commenting on the matter, Senator Lombard said: “I am urging processors to show some solidarity with our farmers who have been deeply affected by the fodder crisis.

“Last month a number of processors decreased the milk price. The co-ops are meeting next week to set the price for milk sold in March.

I have been speaking with farmers from around the country and there is concern there will be a drop in price next month too. Farmers are particularly hard pressed right now, with a lot of their cash tied up with purchasing fodder.

“The measures introduced by Minister Creed last week will alleviate some of the pressures on farmers, now the co-ops need to play their part too. I hope that the co-ops listen carefully to what farmers are saying,” he said.

As it stands, many farmers across the country are in the midst of dealing with a fodder crisis – with many of the dairy co-ops deciding to import fodder from the UK and continental Europe in an effort to alleviate demand here.

Farmers are concerned that they could be hit on a number of fronts; a drop in milk production due to cows still not being out on grass in many cases and increased fodder bills, as well as a potential drop in the March milk price.

‘There will be further corrections’

Meanwhile, Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe recently explained to AgriLand that there will be “further corrections” to the milk price in the near future.

“Clearly, there is a still a significant imbalance between what the market is returning for the entire basket of product today versus what we are paying and what we have been paying for February milk.

“We will be very clear; we can’t defy the law of market gravity – so there will be further corrections and balancing to be done. That will be determined by the board on the basis of all the information available at that time.

I don’t want to put numbers on it; but the basket of product is well under 30c/L at the moment.

“None of us would have anticipated in the early weeks of September last, that the actual return from the basket would go from 36c/L down to below 30c/L inside 12 weeks; that is really significant.

“We are in a very volatile period – the cycles are getting shorter and getting more frequent,” Woulfe said.