Milk price boost sees ICMSA finances in healthy position

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) recorded an operating surplus of  €349,973 for the financial year ending December 31 2017 – up significantly on the previous year.

According to the farm organisation’s most recent financial statement – published at its annual general meeting (AGM) at the South Court Hotel in Limerick today (Friday, November 30) – the ICMSA accounts appear to be in a healthy position.

In 2016, the farm lobby organisation – which currently boasts 16,000 members – recorded a operating deficit of €10,761.

Total income for the farm organisation tallied at €1,571,479 in 2017 – up from €1,209,047 in 2016. Total ICMSA expenditure in 2017 was €1,268,038; up slightly on 2016’s expenditure level at €1,249,014.

The bulk of expenditure – €540,220 – was spent on salaries, wages and superannuation (payment towards pension funds), this figure is down from €593,060 in 2016.

Other key expenditure areas include: travelling and expenses of head office, council and committees (€372,930); printing stationary and advertising (€165,231); and professional fees (€53,029).

Speaking to AgriLand, Pat McCormack, ICMSA president, said that the boost in income is down to strong milk prices for its membership who pay a membership fee towards the entity.

“This time last year the record return was a loss so we’re very, very much dependent on milk price. We run a very similar system to the actual farmers that we represent.

If it’s a good year for milk price you may have a surplus, and if it’s a bad year – as we had on the 2016 figures – we showed a deficit.

“So milk prices and how our dairy farmers’ year is performing financially is critical to our books and that is a positive. We are in the chambers with them, battling the slog for the incomes of farm families,” he said.

Blame game

In his opening address to the large gathering of attendees – which included EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed – McCormack highlighted the threat of Brexit and the challenges of climate change and generational renewable to family farms.

He also highlighted that the expanding dairy sector should “not be blamed” for problems in the beef sector.

“We have to brace ourselves when we turn to look at the beef sector, people have finally woken up to the fact that the grades of cattle are dis-improving,” said McCormack.

“I deliberately use the word ‘grades’ because some people chose to use the word quality which is totally misleading.

Beef from the dairy herd is every bit as good quality-wise as beef from the suckler herd and those who say otherwise are misleading people.

“People are blaming the diary sector for the problems in the beef sector and this demonstrably wrong and usually designed to deflect attention away from the real underlying issues.

McCormack contends that the main problem in the beef sector is one of profitability – which he says “hasn’t changed in 10 years”.

“Farmers have lost out under the grid but, then again, we suspect that it was designed with precisely that end in mind.

It is deliberately over-complex, not fit for purpose and it needs to be reformed.

“The current agenda to discriminate against dairy stock in the grid is both unfair and wrong and Meat Industry Ireland – if it decides to go down this road – will need to back up that choice with verifiable facts which just do not exist,” he said.