Dairy industry must learn from a year like 2016 – Healy

The dairy industry must learn from the milk price crisis of 2016 and take stock of the impact it had on Irish dairy farms, IFA President Joe Healy has said.

Speaking to almost 200 farmers at a IFA Dairy Farm Income meeting in Kilkenny, Healy said that farmers will have to agree that things will probably get worse on farms before they improve.

The IFA President said that cash flow is becoming more and more of an issue, as the continued milk price fall in 2016 pushed farmers further into the red.

Dairy farmers are likely to struggle with cash flow in the coming months, he said, as the issues of merchant credit, contractor charges and super levy bills start to crop up.

This year will go down as a very difficult year on dairy farms, he said, but both the good weather and good quality silage has saved farmers from experiencing the same difficulties as 2009, which has been shown in the National Farms Survey.

The IFA President also welcomed the milk price increases made by processors in both July and August, which he said were the first rise in prices in almost three years.

But, he warned that if processors want milk in the last three months of the year they will have to pay to secure supplies to avoid farmers taking the 14.4c/L European Union payment to reduce supply.

Healy also said that the meetings give dairy farmers throughout Ireland an opportunity to have their voices heard about the real income crisis they have suffered in 2016.

“Milk prices have thankfully started on the recovery process, but there is a long way to go before they start to cover production costs.

Farmers will need every last cent passed back by their co-op that rapidly improving markets justify, and in the meantime, farmers will need cash flow support through the best possible utilisation of EU aids.