The government must now realise that it is inevitable that substantial imports of fodder will be required to get livestock farmers through the next year after two significant curtailments in production in Ireland in the past year.
The rains of last autumn caused widespread destruction of the 2017 crops while the drought that has now extended over most of this summer has now reduced stocks to a point at which it is very unlikely that it can be recovered in the coming harvest.
“Farmers will save as much fodder as they can, but it is very unlikely that we will be able to grow enough,” the President of the IFA, Joe Healy, said. But many farmers have now run up very sizeable bills with their co-ops and suppliers in order to ensure sufficient feed to maintain their animals and it is now time for Minister Creed to bring in a low-cost loan scheme (as promised in the budget of almost a year ago) for farmers finding it hard to keep up.
The increase in price for July milk to suppliers announced by Kerry Co-Op is an indication that there are opportunities to lift prices across the country and the other processors should now follow the lead of Kerry, the Chairman of the IFA National Dairy Committee, Tom Phelan, has said. Indeed, it would be a move that is overdue considering the problems that producers are currently facing.
“At a time when farmers continue to struggle with the weather-related events and fodder availability, co-op boards need to redouble their effort to reflect the European market,” he said.
Tom Phelan said while co-ops have brought forward different measures to support dairy farmers, there is no question that paying the highest milk price that market returns allow is always the best ‘support’ for farmers.
He welcomed the increase announced by Lakeland and “noted” the one cent support from Glanbia Co-Op but said he was disappointed that the processor did not introduce a price increase which would reflect market conditions.