At a Waterford IFA dairy meeting in Dungarvan last week, chaired by County Chairman Michael Keane, over 500 milk suppliers called loud and clear for Glanbia, the leading milk processor in the country, to pay the top milk price in the country. The overwhelming consensus was that Glanbia shopuld commit to a structure ensuring farmers were paid a milk price substantially higher than the country’s average.
The meeting heard strong demands for a return of the May and June price cuts and the payment of an average 2008 milk price matching the IFA 34c/l target.
Speaking at the meeting, which was also addressed by Glanbia CEO John Moloney and Chairman Liam Herlihy, IFA President Padraig Walshe said:
“Glanbia suppliers have made many sacrifices to make the company the large entity it is today so that it has the scale and efficiencies to take on international competitors, the retail trade and the ability to invest to develop a higher value product mix. They did so because they were led to believe that this would secure their future as milk producers, and would deliver them top milk prices.
“Why, then, are they now being asked to take the same price cuts as the suppliers to commodity processing co-ops? Why are they expected to accept an average milk price, not a leading one, at a time when their production costs are going through the roof”, asked Mr. Walshe.
IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Richard Kennedy added: “The Board of Glanbia cannot ignore the depth of feeling among their suppliers. The cuts implemented by Glanbia so far have reduced the income of their average supplier by over €5,000 over the April to June period alone.
“This is at a time when feed, fertiliser and fuel costs are shooting up, and could reduce 2008 dairy incomes by over 10%”,he added.
“Glanbia must not look after the stock market at the expense of their milk supplier co-op shareholders. They must see to it that producers get a fair return from their large, efficient and higher value product mix, as well as their highly profitable overseas businesses. The company must forward a pricing structure which will guarantee their suppliers the top milk price in the country” concluded Mr. Kennedy.
On Friday last, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman, Richard Kennedy, said he was pleased to hear that, in response to demands from the 500 suppliers who attended the Dungarvan meeting, the Glanbia board had decided to review their milk price at their next meeting in two weeks’ time. Mr Kennedy said he was anxiously awaiting their decision and reminded the board that what farmers want was a rescinding of the most recent price cut, and a commitment by Glanbia to pay the best milk price in the country. “Nothing less will do, and the members of the National Dairy Committee in the Glanbia area will stay in close contact with board members to make sure they are under no misapprehension on this matter”, he warned.
Commissioner Fisher Boel
Meanwhile, later in the week, Padraig Walshe, IFA Chief Executive Michael Berkery and European Director Michael Treacy, met Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fisher Boel and senior officials in Brussels.
Following the meeting, Mr. Walshe said the Commissioner had expressed her disappointment at the ‘No’ vote in the Lisbon Referendum, but said her commitment to Irish farmers was not in any way diminished despite her disappointment.
The IFA leader said he had briefed the Commissioner on the high turnout of farmers and the 76% who voted yes. He said he had assured the Commissioner that the no vote in Ireland was not an anti-Europe vote, and farmers and the IFA wanted to continue to play an active part at the heart of Europe.
The IFA did not believe that Ireland wished to position itself in the second division while other Member states pushed ahead taking decisions in their own interest in a first division. Mr. Walshe told the Commissioner that the IFA was prepared to play its part in finding a solution and will support a Government strategy to maintain Ireland’s European commitment at the centre of EU affairs.
In a wide ranging discussion Mr. Walshe said he presented the IFA response on the Health Check including an agreement to push for a milk quota increase of 2% per annum.
The possibility of a WTO Ministerial meeting was also discussed and the IFA leader said that he had reiterated to Commissioner Fischer Boel the damage the Mandelson offer would do to Irish farmers and rural Ireland.