‘Dairy farmers are in for a rough ride’

Dairy farmers are in for a rough ride for the next couple of years, according to Cork farmer John Landers.

Speaking to RTE Radio, the farmer from Killeagh said that before quota abolition farmers were anticipating being better off because they were after three or four good years where the price was high.

Now however, he said that it looks like farmers are in for a rough ride. Like many farmers Landers expanded his farm.

“The tank I had wasn’t capable of holding the volume of milk I was hoping to produce, which was about 20% more,” he said.

Landers explained that he wasn’t going to double production because he was constrained by the land he has around the parlour.

“This month’s milk cheque will be down nearly 30%, I’m afraid that’s the market and the way that it is at the moment.

I suppose you’ve all the things that have gone wrong in the world, like the ban in Russia, problems in Greece… there’s a list of them and it’s all adding in.

“They’ll have a wider impact, if the farmers around Killeagh aren’t making money I guess we’ll be spending a bit less and that will spread out to the wider community,” he said.

Landers was receiving around 25.5c/L this month and this time last year that was up around 40c/L. It costs him 23c/L to produce the milk just on costs alone.

Landers said that he doesn’t know if the farm will be there for the next generation.

“When I started maybe 35 cows would have done to make a living, I’m not sure if this farm will be viable at that stage (the next generation).

“Co-ops need to look at their situation hopefully they’ll get their heads together and we’ll try come up with something.

“I’ll be looking at my own figures and see where I can make savings and can’t make up 30% price drop just trying to stay viable really,” he said.

Maurice Smiddy, a dairy farmer from Ballymacoda Co. Cork milking 170 cows, also expanded his enterprise in anticipation of milk quotas being abolished.

We were being sold this message all along that milk production was the way to go, the best farming system to be in.

“I did feel restrained by quotas with the last number of years and to make better use of my land and facilities it was the only way I saw of moving forward.

“The situation this year is that we’re facing a 30% price drop, we ‘re facing into an expensive time of year now the markets seem to have shut down completely.

“Cows are milking very well it’s been a great year for grass,” Smiddy said.

Like many farmers, he began his expansion in 2012, he upgraded his facilities, increased the capacity of the bulk tank, added extra units to the milking plant and more automation.

Smiddy also said that the first six months of next year are going to be pretty tight.

“We’ve had the ban in Russia, everyone expected the ban to be lifted this year, its not going to happen, the Chinese look like they’re not coming back to the market any time soon.

“90% of our product is exported, we thought we were on pigs back that China would take all of this extra product, but look New Zealand’s milk production is up 4.5-5% every year and they’re on China’s doorstep.

“I think it’s a political decision, we’re going to have to get the Commissioner to look at Intervention again and raise the bar.

“At the moment it’s 21c/L before product goes into Intervention which is below what we’re getting at the moment.”

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