Milk prices could struggle to stay above 30c/l - Woulfe
Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe has warned that average milk prices could struggle to pass the 30c/l mark if current market returns continue as they are.

If current dairy market returns continue, average milk prices could struggle to stay above 30c/l, Dairygold chief Jim Woulfe has warned.

Returns from the market are currently 8c/l behind the milk price, he told the Positive Farmers Conference on Wednesday.

Woulfe said increased global supply in the last quarter of 2017 reversed supply trends from earlier in the year and he said that this was putting pressure on prices.

“As things stand at the moment, prices for our product mix are back about 8c/l on what they were 12 weeks ago. If that continues we will struggle to have an average milk price with a three in front of it for 2018.

“Large intervention stocks of skim milk powder, which are costing the European Commission around €0.5m per week to store, are being used by buyers as a stick to beat sellers with.

“The other thing is butter prices have almost halved. The record prices achieved last year have fallen sharply and seem to have stabilised.”

Woulfe also announced that a new fixed milk price scheme will be revealed later this month.

He said that the scheme will run for three years but gave no indication on the fixed price at the Positive Farmers Conference.

He said the average price paid to Dairygold suppliers in 2017 was 37c/l, which is about 2c/l above the Dairygold base price based on higher than base fat and protein percentages.

Average milk price over the last nine years was 32.7c/l including solids, he said.

Sustainable

The co-op CEO said all Dairygold suppliers are Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) approved, but that sustainability is constantly being questioned by milk buyers.

“They are asking how much carbon our farmers are producing now and what will it be in the years to come,” Woulfe said.

Environmental sustainability was also brought up by Pat Dillon, the Head of the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation programme at Teagasc.

He said water quality and greenhouse gas emissions are going to be big issues in the years ahead.

“Our work in Moorepark shows that stocking rate and milk solids output can increase without impacting negatively on groundwater quality, but farming practices have to change to prevent run off.

“On the emissions side, it’s going to be a challenge. We have signed up the Paris Agreement and we will be paying fines from 2020 onwards.” Dillon said.

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This week in photos: New Ross and Newport Marts
Our top farming photos from the last week include harvesting and hay-making.

Front page photo: Bales in Co Kildare

Hundreds of bales on the Kelly family farm in Athy, Co Kildare. Conor Kelly has been tasked with moving these bales. The family also grows gluten-free oats, rapeseed and wheat. \ Claire-Jeanne Nash

Haymaking in Co Cavan

Charlie Reburn and Peter McGorry in Corraneary, Co Cavan, raking and baling hay for JMC agri contractors. \ Philip Doyle

My Farming Week in Co Kilkenny

Brothers Tom and Jim Murphy in Fiddown, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. The brothers are currently switching the farm from beef to dairy and hope to begin milking in 2019.

Winter barley harvesting in Co Kildare

Park Avenue Farm in Boley, Co Kildare, is a family run farm and grain stores. The Kellys run a tillage, sheep and beef enterprise. Michael and his three brothers, Jerry, John and Jimmy, work together on the farm. Michael’s son and daughter, David and Clodagh, are currently studying ag Science in UCD. \ Philip Doyle

Grubbing beet in Co Wexford

Ciaran Lancaster grubbing beet in Ballybeg, Fernes, Co Wexford. He is contracting for tillage and beef farmer Pat Rourke. Ciaran explains that beet holds up well in drought, needing little water. \ Philip Doyle

Harvesting in Co Carlow

Joe Walsh harvesting winter barley in Ballybar, Co Carlow. He is harvesting a Bazooka six-row highbred with a moisture content of 15.5%, which was sown in the last week of October 2017. \ Philip Doyle

Newport Mart

Liam Philips from Killoscully, Jimmy Kennedy from Silvermines and Francis Ryan from Birdhill, at the sheep sale in Newport Mart, Co Tipperary. \ Mike Hoare

PJ Fogarty, Ruth Minihan and Baden Powell, all form Newport, and Liam Shanahan form Broadford, Co Clare, at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

John and Dolores deCourcy from Limerick at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

Liam Shanahan from Kilbane, Co Clare with Jack and Mary Berkery from Rearcross at Newport Mart. \ Mike Hoare

New Ross Mart

Cattle in the ring at Monday's sale in New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Kevin Barry, Ann Furlong and Michael Cody at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Anthony Ryan and Richard Kirwan from Ramsgrange, Co Wexford at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

Eyes on the ring at the weekly sale at New Ross mart. \ Mary Browne

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This week in photos: Loughrea Mart and winter barley harvesting

Around the country in pictures

This week in photos: BEEF 2018 and wholecrop harvest

Tests for residues and illegal medicines shows 99.7% compliance
The Department of Agriculture released the results of testing carried out under the National Residue Control Plan (NRCP) in 2017 on Sunday.

The overall rate of compliance with the NRCP stands at 99.7%. The NRCP covers testing for banned substances, approved veterinary medicines, pesticides and environmental contaminants.

18,513 samples were tested in 2017, taken across all 8 food producing species (bovine, ovine, porcine, equine, poultry, farmed game, wild game and aquaculture) as well as milk, eggs and honey. Most samples are taken in accordance with criteria designed to target animals or products that are more likely to contain illegal residues.

Risk

The Department said that this high level of compliance has been consistent going back to 2013.

Just 51 samples were non-compliant and of these the majority related to residues of authorised medicines. Risk evaluations by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were carried out in response to each result and it was found that there was no unacceptable food safety risk to consumers. In these circumstances, none required a recall of products from the market. In all cases where positive results were found, a follow up investigation takes place at the farm of origin. Results from the extensive testing under the NRCP in 2017 indicated the absence of illegal administration of banned growth promoting hormones and other banned substances to food-producing animals in Ireland.

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