The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that an additional premium is needed for liquid milk producers in order to guarantee milk supply in the winter months.

The association’s Liquid Milk Committee chair Keith O’Boyle has claimed that these farmers will be “wiped out” unless processors increase the premiums for liquid milk.

Approximately 270 farmers supply 50% of the entire liquid or fresh-milk pool all year round for the domestic fresh-milk market.

The IFA chair said that the departure of these producers from the sector would threaten fresh-milk supply over the winter.

Liquid milk producers

A recently published review, undertaken by James Dunne from Teagasc, has shown that the cost of production for liquid milk increased by 24% in 2023, when compared to 2021.

The IFA noted that this review does not take recent interest-rate hikes into account.

The farm organisation estimates that an additional 10c/L premium is needed over the six winter months to sustain liquid milk producers and ensure an adequate supply of fresh milk in December and January.

“The vulnerability of the sector will worsen due to changes to the nitrates derogation regulations, which will push more farmers out of our sector,” O’Boyle said.

“We understand that the National Milk Agency is concerned about our fragile supply chain and has written to processors and supermarkets relaying this concern.

“Unless farmers receive this additional premium of 10c/L over six months, we will witness a mass exodus of farmers from the sector.

“Our farmers cannot be expected to continue producing fresh milk at a loss,” he added.