In his recent articles about Lakeland Dairies, Jack Kennedy seems to demonstrate a bias against farmers who can profitably milk cows 365 days a year and also farm in a sustainable manner.

In his online column dated 24 April, he chose to personalise matters to individuals, which is unfortunate, while making assumptions that weren’t accurate.

While being drawn into an exchange of views in this manner probably helps to boost sales of the Irish Farmers Journal, that’s not my job and there’s no point in us getting into tit-for-tat rebuttals in this regard. However, I feel a number of comments are necessary in reply.

To insinuate that those making decisions are shutting off opportunities for new supply once they have satisfied their own needs is nonsense.

In my own case, if circumstances allowed me to expand from my current numbers (allowing for all environmental, labour and planning constraints etc), I would view the peak supply management scheme as a fair contribution to the extra processing capacity that my extra milk would require. It is certainly not expected that any dairy farmer who is not expanding should pay for the stainless steel required by others.

No free pass

Having personalised matters, for Jack then to suggest that I have had some kind of free pass to expand for the last 10 years is laughable. While I don’t dwell on it, I would say I have paid at least €100,000 in superlevy fines and buying quota in that period.

Jack also had a rant in relation to Lakeland’s support for new entrants. But the facts are already out there, and it should be noted that since 2015 Lakeland Dairies has warmly welcomed 310 new entrants in the Republic, from 1,000 new entrants nationally.

That is 31% of all new entrants while buying 10% of the southern milk pool - more than our fair share. Lakeland’s milk supply continues to grow year on year, over 10% last year in ROI and over 6% in ROI year to date, bucking the national trend. So to suggest that we should have capacity to welcome all, near and far, is fairy-tale stuff.

In the Lakeland scheme, there is to be a deduction on new milk volumes at peak, not on kilos of fat and protein. For a spring calver, a tighter six week calving pattern would allow more litres to be sent overall without increasing peak volumes.

The board of Lakeland Dairies continues to assess multiple options to cater for future requirements at processing level and always gives due consideration to all our suppliers’ varying needs and requirements in assessing these options.

As indicated by our recent results and recurring EBITDA growth, our financial ability is not and will not be lacking if future processing options make sense.