Farm organisations have voiced their concerns over a move by Tirlán to seek 150 redundancies that some believe could signal a “massive restructuring” of the dairy sector.

The Kilkenny-headquartered co-op, Tirlán, today (Thursday, June 20) confirmed that 150 jobs are likely to go across the organisation as a result of a new “cost reduction programme”.

The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Denis Drennan, warned that this could be “just the beginning of a massive restructuring” of the dairy sector which he said is due to “Government policy”.

Drennan believes the dairy sector in Ireland is “shrinking” because of “depressive policies and regulations”.

“The 150 redundancies that Tirlan are seeking may be just the beginning of a wider sector restructuring.

“We are in danger of entering a period of decline of the sector that more than any other provided prosperity and economic prospects to rural areas all across the State.   

“The tragedy, and in time it will be judged as exactly that, is that it was perfectly possible to move smoothly towards our environmental targets while preserving our world-leading dairy sector and the rural economic bulwark it represents. ICMSA has on numerous occasions outlined how and why we should do that,” Drennan said.

Dairy sector

Separately the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Francie Gorman, also said the move by Tirlán to seek redundancies was a “direct result of EU and Government policies”.

Gorman highlighted the contribution that the dairy sector makes to the “economic and social sustainability of rural Ireland”.

But he also pointed to how margins are being squeezed by Government policies which he believes are focused on “curbing” production and said the tightening of the existing Nitrates Derogation, together with increased regulation and cuts to supports, were “making life more and more difficult”.

Gorman said: “This morning’s announcement will be concerning for Tirlàn staff and their families.

“Morale is also very low amongst farmers. There is so much policy uncertainty that farmers cannot make plans. This must be addressed.

“Today’s announcement must be a wake-up call for the Government to focus on the economic well-being of the sector.”