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Ireland 01.02.2024

Irish Milk Production Faces Steep Decline

Source: The DairyNews
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Irish milk production has witnessed a significant downturn in recent months, raising concerns among dairy farmers and industry stakeholders.
Irish Milk Production Faces Steep Decline
In November 2023, Irish dairy farmers delivered only 388.7 million liters, marking a stark 19.8% decrease compared to the same month the previous year and a notable 16.6% drop from November 2021. This follows a decline of 12.6% in October compared to the previous year.

For the first 11 months of 2023, Ireland's total milk production reached 8.3 billion liters, reflecting a 2.3% reduction compared to the same period in the previous year, according to the Central Statistical Office. Throughout the entire 11-month period, Irish farmers consistently delivered less milk year-on-year, with a less pronounced decline in the early months of the year.

Denis Drennan, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), expresses deep concern about the steep fall in production figures for 2023. He attributes this decline to several factors, including milk prices falling below the cost of production and adverse weather conditions leading to earlier housing of cows. However, Drennan emphasizes that the impact of new nitrates restrictions, including cow banding and a reduction to 220 N per hectare from January 1, 2024, is significant.

According to Drennan, the reduction, combined with 'Cow Banding,' is effectively functioning as a destocking policy. This situation raises worries for Irish dairy companies and their farmers, as the decline in production could affect processing capacities for co-ops that have invested heavily in modern facilities.

Drennan voices frustration over what he sees as a false binary between production volumes and sustainability targets. He emphasizes the need to reconnect three key elements: consistent and sustainable milk prices, scientifically proven sustainability targets, and carefully calculated processing capacity. The challenge, according to Drennan, is to align these elements to ensure a fair and sustainable system that allows dairy farmers to produce the necessary volumes without compromising their livelihoods.
Becky Smith
Becky Smith
Analyst (Livestock) AHDB
China is an important buyer on the world dairy markets, with a strong influence on global demand that plays into price dynamics. Imports of dairy products to China continued to decline in 2023, driven by increased domestic production and weaker consumer demand.
Keith Woodford
Keith Woodford
principal consultant at Agri food Systems Ltd.
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