The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on processors to put fresh milk into dairy products that will maximise the market return for farmers.

The IFA’s Liquid Milk Committee chair, Keith O’Boyle has questioned if liquid-milk suppliers are getting the best return from the fresh market.

“Fresh milk suppliers have to milk all year round, and incur significant extra costs of production,” he said.

“Historically, there was a premium on top of the manufacturing milk price in recognition of this. However, this is being eroded and the current arrangement does not reflect the work and investment [of farmers],” he said.

O’Boyle pointed out that the price at retail level for fresh milk is substantially less than products such as butter and powders are returning.

“This situation has been worsening over the past number of years. With the rapid escalation of input costs, it has become totally unsustainable,” he said.

Milk shortage

“Without a substantial rise in the price paid by retailers, there will be a shortage of milk on the shelves,” he warned.

This will happen as a result of a further exodus of farmers from winter production.

“If dairy products other than milk are giving a higher return, then processors should put milk into those products to maximise the market return for farmers.

“Either retailers bring forward a price that reflects reality, or they won’t have fresh milk,” O’Boyle said.