Farm organisations and politicians have called on co-ops to hold March milk prices to help with high on-farm costs due to the prolonged wet weather.

“I have been speaking with farmers from around the country and there is concern there will be a drop in price next month too,” Senator Tim Lombard said. “Farmers are particularly hard-pressed right now with a lot of their cash tied up with purchasing fodder. I am urging processors to show some solidarity with our farmers who have been deeply affected by the fodder crisis.”

The IFA dairy committee chair has said that co-ops need to invest in their farmers as much as they do in stainless steel.

High cost

“Teagasc has put the reduced profitability for each day that the cows are not grazing at between €2.20 and €3.00 per cow. Hence for a 100-cow herd, a three-week delay in turn out, for example, would cost the farmer around €5,500," said Tom Phelan. "The true nature of the losses may be greater as some herds have lost more than three weeks’ worth of grazing since last autumn. Also, they will certainly rise further in the longer term, as fodder production capacity, cow condition and possibly cow fertility also suffer.

“That’s only the economics; the levels of stress on farms are seriously worrying.”

Similarly, the ICMSA said it wants co-ops to factor in the extent of pressures on farmers when setting milk prices later this week.

"The way to show farmers the support that everyone agrees is required right now is to hold March milk price at current levels. We have to go past declarations of support and into real tangible commitments – that means holding March milk price," said ICMSA dairy chair, Gerald Quain.

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