This year, dairy farmers in Ireland are facing a superlevy bill of €100m, a drop of 35% in milk price and a tax bill in November, according to dairy farmer Michael Murphy.
Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, he said that volatility dips will happen every few years and many farm families will have serious cash flow difficulties, particularly if a low milk price year occurs as did in 2009.
In response, he said, banks need to be considerably more flexible and lobbying needs to continue in Europe.
Ireland, he said, will have a very good dairy industry going forward but it needs a superb industry.
“The big prize for the dairy industry, unlike multinationals is that money largely stays within the State.”
However, he also said Ireland needs a strong advisory service and emphasis needs to be increased to getting research messages to farmers.
“Teagasc needs to help more upskilling farmers and training young farmers. I would question the training of new young farmers coming into the industry.”
He questioned how good the story sounds of 600 students passing through agricultural colleges.
“In the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s the Farm Manager Scheme was in operation but only about 16 go through it today.”
Dairygold, he said, estimates that it needs 75 people to manage dairy farms, while Kerry also needs 75. And, 16 against a demand of around 300 won’t work, he said.
This, he says, shows that there is a need for money to be put into this sector.