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Ireland 08.01.2024

ICMSA Attributes Decline in Milk Production to "Incoherent" Government Policies

Source: The DairyNews
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Denis Drennan, the President of ICMSA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association), has identified various factors contributing to the significant drop in milk production figures for 2023. These factors include the milk price falling below the cost of production, adverse weather conditions leading to early housing of cows, and the impact of new nitrates restrictions, such as cow banding and a reduction to 220 N per hectare from January 1, 2024.
ICMSA Attributes Decline in Milk Production to "Incoherent" Government Policies
Drennan criticized Ireland's official dairy policy as "incoherent" and emphasized the substantial impact of the reduction in nitrates combined with "Cow Banding," which effectively functions as a destocking policy. He expressed disappointment that the Irish Government had previously committed not to introduce such measures. The persistently low milk prices, hovering at or below the cost of production, compelled farmers to reduce production, especially when there were uncertainties about concerted efforts to lower input costs.

While Drennan prioritized the income of farmer-members, he highlighted the impending issue for Co-ops that heavily invested in modern processing facilities. He warned that if Co-ops desire milk, they must be willing to pay a fair price. Drennan anticipated increased competition for milk supply leading to higher milk prices, but he cautioned that the value of farmer shareholdings in Co-ops might decline as markets consider falling volumes against processing capacity.

Expressing frustration, Drennan emphasized the false binary created by the government's policy, asserting that it was entirely possible to align production volumes with scientifically proven sustainability targets and processing capacity. He called for a reconnection of consistent and sustainable milk prices, scientific sustainability targets, and processing capacity to ensure a harmonious and thriving dairy industry.

ICMSA is a national independent group overlooked by an annually differing council, established to tackle reducing milk prices and the effect on local creamery milk suppliers. It is a non-denominational, non-political, democratic association representing creamery milk suppliers at local, county, national and European levels, in defending the rights of farm families.
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