High winter milk prices will be required to ensure a year-round commitment from producers, said IFA liquid milk chairman Teddy Cashman.
Launching a new Liquid Milk Handbook, the IFA said fresh, locally produced supplies of milk for consumers could not be taken for granted without appropriate regulation of the liquid milk market, securing fair remuneration of specialist producers’ full costs.
“We want all stakeholders in the liquid milk chain, farmers, dairies, retailers and regulators, to take a long hard look at the contract and payment systems in place today, to assess what changes are needed to make them fit for purpose in the post-quota era,” said Mr Cashman.
“Higher winter payments will be required to secure consistent fresh milk supplies year-round. We have made recommendations to better regulate the sector and improve its sustainability and resilience.”
He said the main consideration is the need for the dairy sector to realise the value of Ireland’s domestic liquid milk market, more than €530m at retail level.
“It would take considerable investment and effort to generate this kind of value via export expansion, so let’s appreciate, nurture and develop what we have,” he said.
The IFA says many farmers will be pushed by economics to streamline their system and abandon their liquid milk contractual commitments this winter.
Liquid milk producers are a specialist group of suppliers who receive a premium price to produce milk in off-peak months, ensuring year-round access to domestic milk supplies. A third of producers have exited this specialist field in the past decade.
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