Milk output decreased by 14.4% or €300.5m in 2015, the Advance Estimates 2015 for Output, Input and Income in Agriculture show.

The CSO’s first estimate of operating surplus in agriculture in 2015 shows an annual increase of 4.1%.

Cattle and sheep output increased by 19.1% or €385m and 5% or €11.5m respectively.

Commenting on the data ICMSA President John Comer, said that the most stark and concerning figure has to be the 14.4% reduction in the value of output from the dairy sector.

He said that the clear concern for dairy farmers at this time is that the prospects for 2016 are probably worse at this time relative to 2015 meaning that dairy farmers are now in crisis mode.

“The 14.4% reduction in output does not tell the whole story given that with the abolition of milk quotas, milk production has increased substantially in 2015 with a 11.4% increase in the volume of output in 2015 compared to 2014.

Despite this increase, the value of output has fallen by 14.4% which is a reduction of €300m in revenue for dairy farmers compared to 2014 and €280m compared to 2013.

“At individual farm level, this represents a reduction in revenue of €17,000 for the average dairy farmer and the facts for dairy farmers today is that in 2015 we have produced more, invested to produce more, have worked harder and yet we are substantially worse off,” he said.

Comer concluded that the situation is extremely worrying for dairy farmers from a cash flow and income perspective and ICMSA believes that the 14.4% reduction does not reflect the actual reality on the ground which is even worse.

The ICMSA President said that these figures need to be a wake-up call for our Government and the European Commission that immediate actions need to be taken to shore up the dairy sector immediately.