After cuts were announced to July milk prices this week, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack said: "If you were a mathematician, you wouldn't be getting into cows at current prices."

A huge dent has been put in dairy farmers' confidence, according to McCormack, as processors cut milk prices for July milk by between 1.85c/l and 2.5c/l, excluding VAT.

Lakeland Dairies was the first processor to announce a drop in July milk price with a cut of 1.85c/l, while Dairygold and Tirlán announced on Thursday cuts of 2c/l and 2.5c/l respectively.

On Wednesday, Kerry Group confirmed that its leading price commitment will see its milk price stay steady for July at 35c/l, excluding VAT.

"It's very obvious from farmers at the Tullamore Show and county executive meetings around the country that farmers are disappointed with the unprecedented cuts to milk price by processors.

"It's not just the farmer coming to the meetings now, it's the whole farm family who are coming and that's when you know things are bad," McCormack said.

The Tipperary dairy farmer added that farmers have come to him "scratching their heads" as to where money is going to come from to pay contractors, purchase fertiliser after second-cut silage and settle the tax bill.

Global Dairy Trade

Another huge concern, according to McCormack, is that the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) has slipped.

Tuesday’s GDT auction saw its overall index drop by 7.4% to 850 points, putting the cumulative drop at 15% since the middle of June. The current GDT is at its lowest level since November 2018.

"We're now faced with the prospect that if a voluntary reduction scheme was introduced, like that of 2016, a fair cohort of farmers would be left with no other choice than to join.

"The Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Finance need to consider an income volatility management tool if they want to keep family farms viable.

"As it stands, every challenge seems to take a few more out of play," he said.

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Dairygold delivers another price cut for July milk