The IFA National Dairy Committee is to start a series of meetings this week with all the dairy co-ops, on behalf of milk producers facing into a tough cash flow situation this spring.

Milk prices for 2016 and pre-election lobbying on tax solutions for volatile incomes are on the agenda.

Devising volatility risk management instruments for farmers, industry efficiency and consolidation, and the need for co-ordinated action on those will also be covered.

IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary said that when you look closely at the price dip of 1.6% in this week’s GDT auction, you see that it was largely influenced by a correction of whole milk powder prices after massive increases in the recent past.

“Butter, cheddar cheese, lactose and casein prices continued this week on the upward trend started in December.

I would still take it to indicate buyers’ expectations of lower product availability as New Zealand and US production forecasts have been further revised downwards.

“While supply and demand are undoubtedly in the process of rebalancing, there will likely be a few challenging months in 2016 for Irish dairy farmers, as their cash flow are affected by already low milk prices and seasonally poor constituent levels in the first quarter of the year,” he said.

O’Leary said that the meetings will also will deal with the longer term issues, as farmers cannot be left to shoulder alone the impact of prolonged low market returns, but must be satisfied that, through improved efficiencies, risk management offerings and other supportive measures, their co-ops are working to help them cope with volatile incomes.

IFA’s series of meetings with co-ops is starting this week in west Cork, and next week in the north east and Tipperary.

“We plan to have most co-ops met in January.”