A spokesman for ICMSA has told Agriland that the organisation is hopeful of milk prices being retained at current levels during the peak production months of April, May, June and July.

“It is not feasible to look beyond this period. However, it is crucially important that Irish dairy farmers get the bulk of their milk away at realistic prices over the coming spring and summer period.”

With superlevy fines inevitable for many farmers, Pat McCormack, Deputy President and Chairperson of the ICMSA Dairy Committee, said that it is absolutely essential that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine finalise the actual position as soon as possible, notify milk processors of the available national flexmilk pool, and ensure that affected farmers receive any repayments due as soon as possible.

“While the number of farmers who will eventually have to pay superlevy may be small as a percentage, for the individuals affected it’s a massive issue and its finalisation – as soon as possible – is required to return as much of the funds as possible to these farmers – for whom cashflow is now a major issue. Many of these individuals have seen substantial reductions being made to their milk cheques from as far back as last autumn as milk processors held back the superlevy fine of 28.65 cents per litre. This has obviously put serious cashflow and overall financial pressures on these farmers and, in order to alleviate this,  we need the final superlevy position to be finalised without delay so that available fleximilk can be allocated and part of the superlevy fine repaid to these farmers to ease their cashflow issues,’ said Mr McCormack

On the last occasion when there was a superlevy fine, 2012, Mr McCormack observed that the final superlevy figure was not known until September with the result that many farmers did not receive a refund until their October milk cheque. That kind of delay is simply not acceptable to ICMSA and Mr McCormack said that it is up to the Department to get the figures from processors without delay, finalise the quota position, and ensure milk suppliers receive any returns due much quicker than was the case then..

In addition, Mr McCormack reminded milk processors and farmers that, under the milk quota regulations, farmers are entitled to interest on the monies held by milk processors in relation to potential superlevy fines and there is a clear procedure in the regulations on how this should be done. “Farmers are entitled to this and it must be paid along with any refunds,” concluded the ICMSA Deputy President.

Commenting on last week’s publication of the of the new GIIL contract details, Pat McCormack, is urging all GIIL suppliers to engage as fully as possible with the process and acquaint themselves with every aspect of the contract arrangements.

“Ultimately, this is a decision for every individual supplier and he or she will take that decision based on their own perception as to their best interests. GIIL has made very significant investments in increasing processing capacity and it is in everyone’s interest that this increased processing capacity is utilised to its maximum efficiency and that, in turn, the farmer-suppliers receive the maximum milk price,” said Mr McCormack.