IFA issues milk production warning

THE future of milk production and processing in the West of Ireland will be put in jeopardy if Connacht Gold continues to cut the prices they pay suppliers, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has warned.

Dairy Committee chairman Richard Kennedy said suppliers and milk volumes will be lost to the co-op if the incomes of producers are not secured.

A meeting of 300 dairy farmers in Knock protested at Connacht Gold’s price cuts of 0.44c/l for April and 0.88c/l for May.

Mr Kennedy said suppliers made it clear at the meeting that Connacht Gold’s milk price cutting policy will condemn the co-op to a terminal spiral of increased overheads and lower volumes.

“Our industry has known for well over five years that intervention would progressively disappear as an outlet for our milk, yet they have done little to move away from commodity processing.

“This is a major problem in Connacht Gold, where 70% of the milk goes to be processed into basic commodities,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said the higher cost of producing milk in the West of Ireland means producers have suffered even more from the cost/price squeeze.

“What suppliers want is for Connacht Gold to put a viable milk price at the top of its annual budget, and then work to cut costs and co-operate with other processors to deliver that price,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said the IFA has met with Agriculture and Food Minister Mary Coughlan to demand stronger action on export refunds and other market supports.

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