2020 saw milk prices remaining stable, with Covid-19 not having as big of an impact as many had expected. To gain some insight into the Irish dairy sector in 2020 and looking forward to 2021, AgriLand spoke to Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).
Review Of Milk Price 2020
McCormack’s review of the milk price 2020 and the affect Covid-19 had on the sector: ”When farmers will look back on 2020, although it’s been a very strange year for everyone, most will say they’ve had a reasonable year. There was good grass growing conditions, which reduces cost. The milk price remained steady during the year as well which also helped.
”I think everyone was concerned in March, when the first lockdown was announced that milk markets could tumble, that didn’t happen and milk price remained steady during the year.
But many farmers may feel aggrieved that processors didn’t pass back the buoyance seen in the market, after the initial drop.
”The message the ICMSA is receiving from farmers is that the price we’re getting is the same as 20 or 30 years ago and that is not sustainable. The cost of production is higher on farms, with farmers now being asked to become more environmentally sustainable; this isn’t possible without economic sustainability for farmers.
”There is serious commercial pressure on farmers, whether they’re dairy, beef, sheep or tillage.”
Milk Price Tracker
The Milk Price Tracker is a joint initiative between AgriLand and the ICMSA – which details milk prices from the most significant Irish dairy co-ops for each month of the year.
McCormack stated: ”It helps with transparency; it allows farmers see what co-ops are offering for milk.
”The ICMSA has found that in general it goes down well with our member and non-members; it allows them to see an independent analysis of milk prices across the country, which is important.
”There are significant differences between prices being paid by processors across the country and farmers should be aware of that.”
Outlook For 2021
AgriLand asked McCormack for his opinion on the outlook for 2021 for Irish dairy farmers.
”Supply is up 1.6-1.7% per annum and that seems to have been absorbed in the marketplace, with the market being somewhat stable after what has been a strange year for everyone.
”We have also seen New Zealand has been coming under pressure and failing to reach its targets which is good for Irish dairy farmers as the milk market is very much a global market.”
Spring 2021 Exports
2020 saw many challenges for Irish agricultural exports… AgriLand asked McCormack about his view on the export trade for 2021.
We will carry the experience gained from 2020 into 2021. It’s going to be at least six months before we see a return to some form of normality.
”This time last year we never thought we’d see the country grind to a halt like it did, but we survived it and made it through so far.
”One thing about the agriculture sector is, it will adapt and change to meet market needs and demands.”