Co-ops and farmers
Co-ops and farmers must work together to manage price volatility to protect both farmer incomes and co-op profitability, ICOS president Bertie O’Leary told those attending the Dairy Risk Management seminar hosted by Cork Institute of Technology on Monday.
The ICOS leader said that Irish farmers and the co-ops are faced with both a challenge and an opportunity in deciding upon how best to protect the income to be gained from Irish dairy output.
Mr O’Leary said: "Both parties must be protected in some way, since without profitable farmers we will have no milk, and without a strong and profitable processing sector we will have no industry, and farmers will have no-one to sell to, or certainly no one who will protect their interests."
He added that the new CAP is expected to have fewer market support tools.
This message was also evident from the speech delivered by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
Mr O’Leary added: "Since we will have significantly more milk, we will have to examine all available mechanisms to protect against dairy market volatility.
One key piece of the jigsaw will be the necessity to develop transparent, objective milk pricing tools which, when developed, will allow us to return a fair milk price to farmers, while allowing us to develop related structures to protect farmers’ incomes,"
The CIT seminar was also addressed by speakers from the Irish and international dairy processing sectors, from Cornell University, Cork Institute of Technology and Teagasc.
It was attended by an invited audience from dairy co-ops, banks, Enterprise Ireland, as well as academics and researchers. The event was sponsored by AIB and Enterprise Ireland.
ICOS (the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) represents co-operatives and organisations in Ireland — including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts — whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €12 billion, with some 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas.
Irish agricultural exports contribute over €9 billion to the Irish economy each year and the sector accounts for 8% of national employment.