When a government or, let’s say for sake of argument a milk processer, wants to introduce any form of limit on production, the organisation concerned may introduce the limitations on a ‘retrospective’ basis.

One example of this was the Lakeland Dairies decision of this week to introduce a cap on peak milk output next year, however, the line in the sand, from a farm production perspective, was pencilled in at 2021.  

Now I could be cheeky and point out that Lakeland owns one of the biggest drying operations in Co. Tyrone – so why not make better use of that? But that might be slightly unfair, given the fact that the co-op has a genuine track record of putting its farmer-suppliers first.

However, a bigger date with destiny is now very much on the cards. Rumour has it that the draft report, prepared by the secretariat of the Food Dairy Vision Group (FDVG), is about to be circulated to members.

No doubt this is in preparation for the next full meeting of the group on Monday April 11.

And, where FDVG is concerned, the stakes couldn’t be higher. I would be shocked if the ‘note takers and thinkers’ working with chairman, Prof. Gerry Boyle, do not come with a plan, or plans, that encompass a limitation, of some sort, on future peak milk volumes.

And, as previously referenced in my opening paragraph, this may well be contextualised in a ‘retrospective’ manner.   

Milk production

If this scenario does unfold, it will be interesting to see how the farm stakeholder groups react. All have said they will not agree to cuts in Irish milk output as part of Ireland’s climate change plans.

And, in my opinion, they are absolutely right to hold this point of view. Why sacrifice one of Ireland’s greatest success stories on the back of recommendations that are not based on the latest science?

Ireland’s dairy sector ranks as possibly the most efficient industry of its kind in the world.

This alone should end any discussion as to whether or not its potential to grow on a  sustainable basis should be stymied by climate-related dogma on the part of organisations like the Green Party.

If the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is prepared – and rightly so – to fight tooth and nail for Irish pig producers then the need, on its part, to fight just as convincingly for dairy farmers is blindingly obvious.

If there is any sense of milk quotas being introduced, courtesy of FDVG, then I would hope that all the farming organisations involved in the April 11 meeting would register their protests in the time honoured manner – express their total opposition to what’s on the table and then exit Agriculture House at the earliest possible juncture.