AN emergency meeting of the Irish Dairy Forum to address the crisis in the industry is being sought by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association.
Jackie Cahill, president, said the collapse in milk price will mean that virtually all dairy farmers will this year have to borrow money to feed their families and keep their animals alive.
Mr Cahill said the level of concern has reached a dangerous pitch with long-term damage being done to the sector.
The ultimate responsibility for this disastrous situation rests squarely with Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and with the European Commission, he said.
Mr Cahill said the dairy sector is an absolutely key component of indigenous economy and it now requires the minister’s immediate and clear intervention.
He said Mr Smith must urgently call the sector together under the auspices of the Dairy Forum so that emergency measures can be put in place.
Meanwhile, Ireland East Fine Gael MEP Máiréad McGuinness said she will raise the issue of mounting income losses on Irish dairy farms in Strasbourg next week with the Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel.
She said she will ask Ms Fischer Boel to take more action to help the dairy markets. Milk processors must, meanwhile, support dairy farmers through this crisis and not squeeze them into deeper debt by slashing prices.
Bloxham Stockbrokers said yesterday the Irish dairy industry must accept rationalisation at both farm and processing level in order to exploit the comparative advantages of its grass-based milk production and potential liberalisation of milk quotas in 2015.
“Irish dairy farmers have stepped up protests about milk prices that are now about 20c per litre, close to their 1983 levels.
“With farm production costs in excess of 20c, low primary prices will force further restructuring in the industry,” it said.
Bloxam said profits for the large dairy processors — Glanbia and Kerry — are evaporating as low global prices and weak sterling combine with a fragmented industry.
“There are no easy fixes,” it said.
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