Irish dairy farms are producing milk less efficiently than was the case prior to the abolition of milk quotas, according to ICMSA deputy president Pat McCormack.

“While quotas were in place farmers had a fixed volume of milk to produce. This was a level of output for dairy farms which they could achieve in the most efficient way possible,” he said.

“And, in practical terms this meant making best use of grass on dairy farms here. However, there are already signs that farmers are feeding higher levels of concentrates to cows, on dairy farms in order to increase milk output levels. This approach is serving only to reduce the efficiency levels achieved by the industry as whole.”

Turning to the fast deteriorating conditions that are now impacting on world dairy markets McCormack said that the EU should have acted before this to avert the crisis now confronting milk producers throughout Europe.

“Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan is hosting a summit in Brussels on September 7 to discuss the scale of the disaster now unfolding within the dairy sector. But, in truth, this meeting should be happening right now.

“I am also deeply disappointed at the lack of activity on the part of our Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in standing up for the interests of Irish dairy farmers.

“The current average milk price of 27c/L masks the fact that recent currency movements have acted to make Irish exports much more competitive on international markets. But, had it not been for this development, Irish milk prices might well be 6c/L below where they currently are.”

McCormack believes that the introduction of enhanced intervention measures represents the only solution to the problems now confronting EU dairy farmers.

“This is a short-term fix,” he said.

“But it will get us over the hump of the next six months. If the Commission does not act to support Europe’s milk sector now, the reality is that some of the EU’s most efficient dairy farmers will go out of business. Long term, the EU dairy industry must look at introducing a fundamental re-structuring programme.”