There is a massive exodus of farmers from the liquid milk sector as the premium paid over the winter no longer covers farm input costs, let alone leaves a profit, according to the IFA.

IFA liquid milk chair Keith O’Boyle said that 20% of liquid milk producers exited the sector last year.

"Escalating costs have eroded the profitability and sustainability of liquid milk producers," he said.

Cost inflation

O’Boyle outlined that since last winter, feed, energy and fuel costs have risen by 14%, 21% and 22% respectively.

He said that this cost inflation doesn’t even account for fertiliser, which will be more than double the price next spring.

“While input costs are rising sharply, the retail price of milk has remained the same for the past decade.

“The National Milk Agency estimates that 70% of milk sells under private label, which typically carries a 27% discount.

“If retailers and consumers want a consistent supply of high-quality, fresh milk throughout the year, they simply will have to pay more for it.”

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