Co-ops must support farmers to year-end – Phelan

Co-op board members meeting in the coming days to decide on August milk prices must prioritise supporting hard-pressed farmers, according to IFA dairy chairman Tom Phelan.

Following an extremely challenging farming year, co-operatives should make a commitment to year-end to: first roll all top-ups into base milk prices; and second to return the strongest price markets allow right to year-end, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) chairman said.

Phelan added that co-op board members must also take stock of their pricing structures, and restore price transparency and competitiveness by addressing growing milk price gaps.

Whatever about the slight easing in the first GDT auction of September, European dairy indicators were all firmer at the end of August.

“They all suggest milk price equivalents based on late August market returns in the low to mid 30s before VAT, well above the July Ornua PPI and the average milk prices paid by Irish co-ops for July milk,” Phelan said.

“We believe there is scope for co-ops to make a firm commitment to – at the very worst – hold current payouts at least till the end of the year,” he said.

Time to start ‘making up ground’

Meanwhile, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) dairy chairman Gerald Quain believes it is time for Irish processors to start “making up the ground” that has opened between Irish and mainland Europe prices.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “Many of the increases we saw over the last two months were in the 1c/L to 2c/L range.

“Given that Irish prices were at the lower end of the European milk league for July – even after some processors had increased their prices – Irish milk co-op purchasers will have to look seriously at increasing prices if they’re even to stay on the coat tails of their European counterparts for August milk,” he said.