The IFA is urging dairy farmers to see the bigger picture and not risk their future right to produce milk by illegally selling their over-quota supplies to northern buyers to avoid likely super levy fines.
Unconfirmed reports of trucks heading north of the border with large quantities of milk bought directly from Cork farmers have hastened an urgent response from the IFA dairy spokesmen at both local and national levels.
“I have heard figures quoted for what people are getting in cash, so there is substance to it,” said Seán O’Leary, vice-chair of the IFA’s dairy committee. “I have heard stories of this operating in and around Cork City. It’s lunacy. For a short-term gain, it makes no sense to risk to put your future in milk production into question.”
Many farmers in the Cork area are already over-quota, and many have dried cows off early this year, given the super levy threat. National authorities have accepted the country cannot avoid super levy fines for the year ending Mar 31, 2014.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney yesterday said national volumes of milk supplied to the end of October, taking into account relevant butterfat adjustment, have left Ireland 0.9% over quota. This compares to 2.8% under quota this time last year and is up from 0.42% over quota at end of last month.
“The country finished the 2011/12 milk quota year at 1.05% over quota and this cost the farmers responsible for this over-supply €16m in super levy payments.
“The surge in milk production over the recent months could have serious consequences for affected farmers.”
The minister also reminded suppliers that they should only sell their milk through their usual purchaser in compliance with the milk quota regulations and that to sell through any other channels is an offence.
Most coops are already 2% or more over quota, with Kerry (c-2%) and Aurivo (c-5%) the notable exceptions. Thus, there is virtually no chance of Ireland escaping super levy fines for the present production year.
IFA national dairy committee chairman, Kevin Kiersey, urged those farmers who know at this point that their supplies will exceed the quota available to them to contact their advisor or their co-op for assistance.
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