Dairy farmers have reacted with shock and disappointment to Glanbia’s decision to cut its milk price by 3c/L to 32c/L for February milk supplies.
Both the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) have condemned the severity of the drop – particularly the timing, in light of recent extreme weather conditions.
The chairperson of the ICMSA Dairy Committee, Gerald Quain, said that he was “very disappointed” that Glanbia had decided to cut its February milk price by 3c/L.
He added that the co-op’s decision to cut by such a significant amount stood in sharp contrast to its ‘low and slow’ policy of price rises when dairy markets were strengthening and surging.
Quain also said that the 1c/L adverse weather bonus should be part of the milk price and not classed as a bonus. He stressed that the February payment was the first decent milk cheque of the year for most farmers.
As a result, he highlighted that the Glanbia decision represented a “significant blow” to farmer confidence as they headed into Q2 and peak production months.
Meanwhile, IFA national dairy chairman Tom Phelan described the decision as “extremely disappointing”.
He said farmers have just gone through a long, cold and wet winter – only to experience an extremely late spring and “the most severe” snow storm in a generation right in the middle of the 2018 calving period.
Farmers will be all the more disappointed as February milk volumes will be low because of challenging production conditions, and supporting farmers in this difficult period would not have been overly onerous on Glanbia.
“Board members must reflect on this and bear in mind the massive additional costs and stresses their suppliers have just gone through when it comes to deciding on milk prices in the coming months,” Phelan said.
The dairy chairman said that the IFA acknowledges market returns are more challenging, with powder and many other commodities weaker than in 2017 – though butter prices have been picking up by €310/t since mid-January.
“However, farmers have just lived through a horrendous long, wet and cold winter, a very late spring, topped by the most severe snow storm since 1947.
“Even the bad weather bonus of 1c/L will not make up in farmers’ minds for the severity of the 3c/L cut in these difficult times,” he added.
It is a shame that the goodwill created by Glanbia’s hard work and quick action during the snow storm will now be all but wiped out in farmers’ minds.
“I urge Glanbia board members to stop and reflect on the huge extra costs, workload and stresses their fellow suppliers have been experiencing these last few months when deciding on milk prices going forward,” Phelan concluded.
By: Sylvester Phelan