ICMSA President John Comer is calling on the Department of Agriculture and the dairy co-ops to facilitate the payment of the EU Milk Reduction Scheme monies with immediate effect.

The reference period ended on December 31, so there is no reason why the co-ops cannot notify farmers as to the level of milk output reduction they achieved during the calendar year of 2016, he said.

“This can be done without delay. I know that the dairies were happy to supply farmers with pre-populated forms during the initial application process.

“So I see no reason why they cannot make the same commitment when it comes to producers actually applying for the money that is available under the scheme.”

Comer indicated that farmers must sign off on the actual requests for payment and then submit these to Dublin.

“It’s then up to the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the outstanding monies are paid out as quickly as possible.”

Irish dairy farmers have come through a very challenging period over the past 18 months. Any steps which the Department can take to boost cash flows within these businesses must be enacted without delay.

“Farmers will receive 14.4c/L for year-on-year reductions in milk output recorded during 2016.”

Looking ahead, Comer is predicting that Irish milk prices will average between 32c/L and 33c/L during 2017.

“I am particularly upbeat regarding prospects for the first half of this year. But it is crucial for the EU Commission to manage the sell-off of dairy intervention stocks very carefully.

“Irish farmers can make ends meet if the milk price is in the region of 32c/L. But many milk producers in mainland Europe need a price of 40c/L plus.

“And there is the prospect of EU dairy farmers protesting in the event of the Commission dampening milk prices by putting excessive intervention stocks back on to the world’s commercial markets at the wrong time.”