Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president, Pat McCormack, believes that the Irish family farm model must be protected at all costs through Common Agricultural Policy – CAP.

He told Agriland: “When Bord BIa and Ornua go abroad, they are continually promoting the Irish family farm model. And we must prioritise this in preservation as we move forward.

“We need to make their income economically sustainable while also delivering social and environmental sustainability.”

Where the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is concerned McCormack, believes that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), wants to see significant progress being made over the coming weeks.

He commented: “ICMSA will not be standing idly by in this process. But, again, it is all about protecting the family farm structure.

“The government must also put its shoulder to the wheel, where national funding of CAP measures are concerned.

“We need to see micro and renewable energy supported at farm level. This can be the difference between a farmer surviving a difficult year and not.”

CAP and farmgate prices

While recognising the input pressure on farm businesses at the present time, the ICMSA president believes that Irish dairy farming can look forward to a positive future.

He explained: “Feed, fertiliser and fuel are all major issues at the present time. Some farmers did buy fertiliser early in 2021 and, as a consequence, have been sheltered from the recent cost increases that have come into the market.

“The challenges associated with the cost and availability of labour are also very significant at the present time.

“All of these issues are going to put pressure on farm margins. But the bottom line question is this: have farm gate prices entered a new era?

“I think they need to. We are at a 30 to 35 year stagnation point, where milk prices are concerned. The average return to dairy farmers has very rarely broken through the 30c/L barrier for most of this period. And the same principle of price stagnation holds, where beef is concerned,” he added.

Consumer contribution

The farm association president said that he is hopeful that as consumers become more aware of the requirements on the primary producer, they will be willing to reward the farmer.

He said: “Collectively, we won’t see the future level of expansion taking place in dairy cow numbers, as would have been the case over recent years.

“But we will continue to see expansion taking place on individual dairy farms. There is also potential for further gains in yields to be achieved as herds mature,” he concluded.