Dairy farmers renew processor profit assistance calls

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy farmers

German and Irish dairy farmers have renewed their protests this week over concerns about payments for their produce, calling on processors across the bloc to help find a solution to improve profitability.

The European Milk Board (EMB), a lobby group representing dairy farmers in the bloc, followed similar actions taken in Ireland earlier in the week by organising its German members to gather outside dairies in the country yesterday to play up their concerns.

As milk prices have dropped strongly from the record highs being paid for commodities back in mid-2007, farmers have called for greater government and industry support claims their operations are not economically viable.

While some major processor and ingredients groups such as Ireland-based Glanbia also hope to ensure greater support for the industry, the company said it too is being hit by the impacts of declining prices and general economic instability.

Joint solution

The EMB, which has been behind a number of campaigns to draw attention to fears that many milk suppliers cannot currently cover their own production costs, has used the German actions to call for greater help from processors.

"We have a common problem in the milk market - we can solve this together - we as future orientated dairy farmers are ready to do so,"​ stated the group.

The calls followed reported protests across Ireland earlier this week, reflecting concerns over Glanbia;s announcement that its March payment price would be down on the previous month to reflect global market developments.

Richard Kennedy of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) expressed concern at the developments on Wednesday, telling the Reuters news agency that he believed Glanbia and other processors should, and could, do more to safeguard milk supplies.

“Dairy farmers supplying Glanbia are experiencing unprecedented financial difficulties and it is not unreasonable to expect [the company] to share some of the pain,"​ stated Kennedy in the report.

Glanbia stance

In responding to the criticisms of its pricing, Glanbia claimed that despite holding the price being paid to its members in February, continuing to do so would be untenable for all stakeholders. The March price for milk set by the company was €0.21 per litre.

Liam Herlihy, chairman of Glanbia’s board, said in a statement that, while the company recognised its latest prices were below production costs for farmers, the company was also struggling to ensure profit at the current payment prices.

“Across the Group we continue to focus on maximising production efficiencies and reducing our cost base,”​ he stated. “Unfortunately these initiatives alone cannot deal with the sheer scale of the dairy market downturn.”

Related topics: Manufacturers

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