UK dairy farmers also facing milk price cuts
After both First Milk and Arla announced price cuts this month, NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said the cost of milk production for UK dairy farmers is now "unsustainable".

First Milk and Arla suppliers are facing further price cuts as the overall market situation shows little prospect of improvement until 2016, according to National Farmers Union (NFU) dairy board chairman Rob Harrison. First Milk has announced a cut of 1ppl for A volumes from all milk pools from 1 July, while Arla suppliers face fresh cuts, expected to be announced later this week, due to exchange rate movements.

The only exception to the cuts in First Milk is the Midlands Balancing pool which will see a 0.7 pence per litre reduction.

Commenting on the cuts, NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison said, “We are in a position now whereby the majority of dairy farmers in the UK will be receiving milk prices far below the cost of production. This is simply not sustainable."

The chairman added that what dairy farmers need is a "guarantee from our milk buyers that they are doing all they can to get the best possible price from the market. But above all, we need the industry to work with us to develop a rigid and practical set of risk management tools that can benefit our farmers and support them with fair prices during a period of market volatility.”

It was also announced this week that Sir Jim Paice will step down as chairman of First Milk.

NFU President Meurig Raymond said, “Jim has chaired First Milk through a very turbulent time for First Milk, its members and the entire dairy industry."

Paice said that signalling his intention to stand down allows the Board to "immediately start work on scoping out the personal and professional qualities that they require in a new chairman, and initiating a recruitment process. In order to ensure an appropriate transition, I will stay in role until a smooth handover to a new chairman is achieved.”

Although milk production is up globally, including 8% in Ireland and 3.8% in the UK, Harrison said there was not a market for it despite growing demand.

“We have had 450 farmers exit the industry in the UK in the last 12 months and that is probably going to rise. A Promar report suggests it could be 2000 – it is likely to be a lot less than that but a lot of sales are being advertised. Some are slowly dripping to death by selling culling cows,” he said.

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Beef and dairy bosses demand Brexit action from Creed
Imposing tariffs on exports would "cripple trade", meat and dairy factory representatives have warned.

Beef and dairy bosses braced for a hard Brexit have handed a list of demands to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.

With 65 days remaining to salvage a Brexit deal, the nightmare scenario of a no-deal is becoming ever more likely.

A delegation including Aurivo’s Aaron Forde, ABP’s Martin Kane, Larry Murrin of Dawn Farms Foods, Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland and Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland, met with Minister Creed on Tuesday.

Dairy co-ops want dual British-Irish status for Northern Ireland milk, export refunds and other trade supports. They called for a freeze on tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit and direct income aid for farmers.

Meat factory representatives warned that if tariffs are imposed on exports to the UK “it would cripple trade”, with the additional danger of sterling devaluation in a no-deal outcome.

They called for extra resources to ensure speedy border checks and increased ferry capacity and routes for direct shipping to the continent.

While European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan reassured farmers Brussels is poised to swoop to their aid, a Commission spokesman confirmed a hard border is inevitable unless the British reach an agreement with the EU or delay their withdrawal.

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EU 'stands ready' to support farmers - Hogan
European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has assured farmers that Europe is planning for all possible outcomes from Brexit negotiations.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has moved to reassure farmers that the EU stands ready to intervene in markets to protect prices in the event of a hard Brexit.

“We have to prepare for the worst. The European Union stands ready to help Irish and EU farmers in the event of a hard Brexit,” Commissioner Hogan said, addressing a crowd of more than 250 farmers at the Kilkenny IFA annual dinner dance on Saturday night.

“We have the tools ready to intervene, including Aid to Private Storage, intervention and a revision of state aid rules,” he added.

Slow

His words will help give farmers comfort that, while Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been slow to commit to supports, plans for a safety net at EU level are well advanced.

Hogan reassured farmers that the EU is ready for all scenarios, but warned that the Government must also be ready and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure products can continue to move through ports.

Gloomy

While a no-deal Brexit paints a gloomy picture, vice president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness is reminding farmers that it could be avoided if a deal is reached between the EU and UK. But, she says, plans are being put in place to deal with a no-deal scenario.

“There are deep concerns about the consequences,” McGuinness told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“We will need to be looking at how you are going to support a vulnerable sector, that will call for money.

"All of those things will have to be discussed in the short period of time before the United Kingdom leaves.”

Lamb prices rocketing ahead
The trade for all types of lamb is strong currently boosting farmers' confidence in the sector.

Factory agents are scouring the country in the hunt for slaughter-fit lambs.

Prices have hardened significantly over the past number of weeks.

Farmers are securing €5.25/kg to €5.30/kg, with specialised feeders negotiating in excess of €5.40/kg for lambs.

The mart trade is booming for all types of lambs currently.

Fleshed factory-fit lambs are selling over €120/head, with €125/head common for lambs weighing over 50kg.

The store lamb trade is on fire, with prices of €2.50/kg to €2.80/kg and higher being recognised for hill-bred lambs.