ICMSA has called for every dairy farmer in the EU to be offered at least 10c for every litre of milk less they produce in 2016, compared to 2015.
The milk suppliers’ association president, John Comer, said additional EU funding should be made available to implement this totally voluntary scheme, with any farmer who wishes to continue to expand being allowed do so.
Mr Comer said: “It’s very clear at this stage that farmers have been effectively abandoned to take the hit alone from the downturn in the dairy markets.
“People will argue over the cost of producing milk, but the generally accepted figure is 28c per litre excluding farmers’ own labour costs and we have been below this level for almost a year now, with no prospect of a turnaround in the short term.
“This just can’t go on and policymakers telling farmers that this is simply a trough in the market, to cut costs, and to restructure loans to survive, is simply pointless.
“Repayment capacity has been wiped out, and even if loans were restructured, many farmers simply cannot survive at these price levels.
“What we need is a viable milk price that, at a minimum, covers the cost of production, and this is what policymakers need to concentrate on.
“The problem on dairy markets at present is the excess supplies of milk, particularly in the EU.
"To counter this and to provide farmers with options and some degree of power comparable to other links in the supply chain, ICMSA believes that the new minister for agriculture, food and the marine should implement a voluntary supply reduction scheme in Ireland.”
Mr Comer said the current policy to cut milk prices to farmers until supplies balance demand is a step-by-step destruction of Ireland’s “priceless family dairy farm system”.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s biggest milk buyer, Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), has held the April price at 22cpl including VAT for manufacturing milk at 3.6% fat and 3.3% protein.
This is topped up with a 2cpl Glanbia Co-Op support payment to its members, increased from 1cpl for milk in March, when a 1 cpl additional cash bonus from Ornua was also paid.
In March, the GII 22c price compared with 23.55c at Dairygold, including a 0.39c quality adjustment, and a Kerry price of 25.34c, unchanged for the fourth consecutive month, according to the www.milkprices.nl rankings.
The average price across the 15 European dairies ranked was 27.47c.
This is the lowest www.milkprices.nl average since 2009, and the 2016 average will be close to the 2009 average (the lowest since this LTO milk price comparison started in 1999) — if milk prices do not recover across the EU this year.
The EU March average compared with 20.29c paid by Fonterra in New Zealand, and 31.41c for Class 3 milk in the US.
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