Irish Farmers Association (IFA) deputy president Tim O’Leary has told guests attending today’s Emerald Expo launch that the ending of milk quotas represents a tremendous opportunity for the Irish dairy industry.

He added: “And it is one that must be grasped by the entire sector, including farmers. No doubt that supply industries will be seeking to achieve higher levels of sales, as farmers gear up their businesses to increase milk output. But the fundamental requirement must be that of ensuring that farmers can generate a sustainable future.

“The reality is that producers must receive acceptable prices for the milk they are producing. And, of course if this is not achieved, then the future of the entire diary industry in Ireland will be put at risk.”

O’Leary continued: “I would encourage milk producers to draw up a plan for their individual farm businesses. The purpose of the exercise is to pull together the ideas and management strategies that will allow each farmer to maximise the potential of his holding. And in very blunt terms this means identifying the ways and means by which producers can maximise the profits their businesses can generate from their enterprises.”

Speaking to AgriLand after the event the IFA deputy president discussed the issue of superlevy and what steps Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney can take to alleviate this problem.

“Minister Coveney has already been to Brussels on this matter,” he explained.

“And the IFA is encouraging him to take whatever steps are possible to secure a soft landing on the superlevy issue. But let’s not kid ourselves: this will be a hard nut to crack.

“The EU Commission are already saying that it has provided a soft landing for quotas, given that national quota thresholds have been rising by the equivalent of one per cent per year over recent times.

“The issue of Ireland’s butterfat threshold, which was raised with the EU Commission by Minister Coveney last week, is extremely technical and the jury is still out on whether we can get some form of remedial measures introduced on this point.

“My advice to dairy farmers is to plan on the basis that a superlevy will become a reality both this year and in 2014/15. Any joy that we can bet from Brussels in the meantime on this issue should be regarded as a bonus.”