April 13, 2009

Ireland dairy farmers may go on strike over milk price cuts

Dairy farmers in Ireland may go on strike this year as processors slashed the price by 6 cent below cost of production on each litre.

Main processors Glanbia, Dairygold, Lakeland and Kerry co-operatives, have reduced the price paid to farmers for milk produced last month, infuriating dairy farmers.

The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association Jackie Cahill said Glanbia and Dairygold planned to pay 20 cent a litre and Kerry 22 cent a litre despite the fact they know farmers must get 27 cent a litre to produce at a break-even point.

Cahill said the price reduction is a frightening situation especially now that EU is strongly supporting its dairy sector. He added that dairy farmers are taking a terrible battering and losing money as there is nowhere for them to go, especially now there are few off-farm jobs available.

Cahill said his organisation would examine all options, including withholding milk supplies if necessary.

He indicated the major retail outlets could become the focus of attention for angry farmers as consumers were now paying up to 112 cent for a litre for which farmers receive only 20 cent.

Richard Kennedy, the Irish Farmers Association's dairy chairman, said prices being paid to farmers are at 1983 levels. This was at a time when EU and world markets were recovering from oversupply and falling demand.

Dairy farmers, he said, are already at the end of their tether and were looking at massive income losses this year. Co-ops must not cut their prices any lower.

Announcing the monthly price, Glanbia board chairman Liam Herlihy said there was no immediate upturn anticipated in coming months in world markets.

Herlihy said that while they recognise that at this level milk price will be below the cost of production, and are aware of the difficulties this price presents for consumers, the level of volatility in dairy markets is untenable for milk suppliers and processors.

He said the price set by Glanbia left the company's milk-processing business in a potentially loss-making situation.

Video >

Follow Us