Fresh milk suppliers having to milk all year and incur extra production costs makes it unviable given the current price paid by retailers, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) liquid milk chair Keith O'Boyle said.
He has questioned whether liquid milk suppliers are getting the best return from the fresh milk market.
O'Boyle said: "Fresh milk suppliers have to milk all year and incur significant extra costs of production.
"Historically, there was a premium on top of the manufacturing milk price in recognition of this. However, this is being eroded," he said.
The current arrangement does not reflect the work and investment, O’Boyle said, as the price at retail level for fresh milk is substantially less than products such as butter and powders are returning.
"This situation has been worsening over the past number of years. With the rapid escalation of input costs, it has become totally unsustainable.
"Without a substantial rise in the price paid by retailers, there will be a shortage of fresh milk on the shelves. This will happen due to a further exodus of farmers from winter production," he said.
He added that if dairy products, other than fresh milk, are giving a higher return, then processors should put milk into those products to maximise the market return for farmers.
"Either retailers bring forward a price that reflects reality, or they won’t have fresh milk," he concluded.