Specialist producers of fresh milk are worried about their long-term future, according to the IFA‘s National Liquid Milk Committee Chairman, Teddy Cashman.
Speaking in advance of the IFA’s Liquid Milk Forum, which is taking place this afternoon in Dublin, he said: “If you were a fresh milk supplier in 2013, you calved half your herd in the wettest spring in decades, the other half in the autumn, you milked your cows 365 days a year, and fed them to keep them productive through the winter, all this for a price 0.8c/l higher across the year than a manufacturing milk producer – but at a much higher cost, and therefore for a lower margin.
“With the end of quotas, Irish dairy farmers will be able to grow their business and produce more milk unimpeded. But they will do so on the basis of very cold blooded business decisions. The growth opportunities are for export milk in the context of fast growing global dairy demand, not for fresh milk for a static Irish consumer market,” he warned.
“In this context, how can we be sure that there will always be adequate amounts of quality, locally produced fresh milk to cater for consumer needs all year round?” he asked.
“Today, we want to challenge all stakeholders on this very simple theme. Many other Western countries – the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand – have encountered difficulties in sustaining fresh milk supplies, and have had to introduce structures and measures to protect them. We also have such structures, in the Milk Supply Act and the National Milk Agency – but in the context of our cut throat retail market, they need reviewing and strengthening to become fitter for purpose.”