Poll shows most want fixed milk prices

Most milk producers would settle for a fixed milk price scheme for 2018, at the current price.

That was the verdict from the 127 dairy farmers across the country who took part in the 2017 Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll.

Interviewed at eight agricultural shows from August 13 to August 27, they were asked their opinion of the statement, “I would like my co-op to offer a fixed milk price scheme for 2018 at the current price.”

Only 16% were non-committal, with 30% strongly agreeing, and 42% slightly agreeing. Only 4% strongly disagreed, and 9% slightly disagreed.

The poll result indicates there should be a positive response to the most recent offers by milk processors allowing farmer members to lock in prices over three to five-year contracts.

Glanbia sources have already revealed a fixed milk price scheme of 32cpl for 2018 launched in June was over-subscribed.

The poll result confirms the traumatic effects felt by dairy farmers in the past year of milk prices swinging from 22 to 35 cent per litre.

This excessive milk price volatility has been described by ICMSA President John Comer as a “nightmare” for dairy farmers.

“It’s not possible to run a family farm with fixed or rising costs against a background where the milk price can swing from 22cpl to 34cpl in one year, where you can go from having no income whatsoever in one year to a reasonable level of income the next year, while raising your family at the same time,” said Mr Comer in an Irish Examiner interview.

“How can you plan any business on that basis?

“How do you invest or borrow?

“We need a mechanism that addresses income volatility, and that’s why ICMSA has recommended a number of initiatives to the Departments of Finance and Agriculture, Food & the Marine,” said the ICMSA President.

Also highlighted in the annual Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll is dairy farmers’ fears that labour shortages pose an increasing challenge. Results of the full poll of 569 farmers across Ireland indicate that the biggest medium term problem for Irish dairy farmers is not being able to find enough manpower for Ireland’s expanding milk production sector. Of the 569 interviewees in the poll, including 127 dairy farmers, 72% agreed that “Finding the 200 extra employees per year needed on expanding Irish dairy farms will be very difficult”.

This refers to the Teagasc projection that dairy farming needs 6,000 new entrants over the next nine years, made up of 2,000 new jobs, and 4,000 people to provide for regeneration of existing dairy farmers. (see detailed results on page 15)

Only 12% in the Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll disagree that filling the 2,000 new jobs will be very difficult, and 16% neither agreed nor disagreed.

The proportion agreeing was 72% for the 127 dairy farmers in the poll, the same as the overall result.

Geographically, those agreeing varied from 56-57% at Claregalway, Co Galway, and Dualla, Cashel, Co Tipperary, to 89% at Limerick Show.

Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll

The Irish Examiner ICMSA farming poll was designed to provide a robust and accurate snapshot of the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of the farming community about a range of issues, both farming and social. The survey involved 569 interviews with farm dwelling adults in the Republic of Ireland.

Fieldwork was completed by Behaviour & Attitudes over a two-week period between August 13 and 27, with interviewing undertaken onsite by Behaviour & Attitudes interviewers across eight agricultural shows. The sample size is large and the data has a statistical margin of error of +/-4%.

The sampling approach involves a random probability method, with interviews being undertaken with attendees provided they worked and/or lived on a farm. 429 interviews were with farmers themselves, 31 with non family, farm employees, and the balance with spouses (66), most of whom -5 out of 6- personally work on the family farm as well.

All data is copyrighted by the Irish Examiner and Behaviour & Attitudes and should be attributed to this source where quoted.

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