THE dairy industry must deliver viable milk prices to producers, an Irish Farmers Association organised forum was told in Horse and Jockey, Co Tipperary.
IFA president John Bryan told industry leaders that action at EU, Government and industry level is immediately required to overcome the current market uncertainties.
He said Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and his department must deal with the sector’s concerns as a matter of urgency, bearing in mind its potential to act as an engine of recovery for the economy.
Mr Bryan said Mr Smith must secure a public commitment from the new EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dacian Ciolos that no further intervention stock will be released until market prices are at a level that provides a sustainable return for producers.
He said there must be careful stock management of both intervention and aid to private storage to avoid market disturbance, greater flexibility in the introduction of export refunds and other measures undertaken.
The recent decision to introduce a carbon tax came in for serious criticism at the forum, where speakers warned that it will impact negatively on industry competitiveness at several levels.
Banking and credit were also identified as issues that must be addressed at Government level to ensure liquidity in the sector in 2010.
Mr Bryan said Mr Smith must convince Commissioner Ciolos that EU and Irish dairy farmers cannot operate at world or support prices.
“The very future of the sector is at stake, and the high-level group currently meeting must come forward with meaningful market and other proposals to protect the family farming sector in Ireland and across the EU sector,” he said.
IFA Dairy Committee chairman Kevin Kiersey said the future viability of family farms was dependent on a decent price for milk in 2010.
“Farmers need an immediate price increase of 2c/l, to progress some way towards the 28c/l minimum needed to break even.
“This is about co-ops investing in the badly shaken confidence of their shareholder suppliers,” he said.
Mr Kiersey also urged co-ops to engage actively and deliver promptly on a consolidation plan for the industry.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved