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MILK-NEWS

http://www.europeanmilkboard.org

Dear dairy farmers, dear interested parties,

As newly elected member of the Executive Committee of the European Milk Board, I would like to draw your attention in my editorial on current issues in Ireland. Angers mounts as Ireland’s biggest Co-op underpays on May milk price.

This latest round of price announcements by the Irish Co-ops for milk supplied in May has been controversial – specifically the 29 cents/L base price announced by Glanbia, Ireland’s largest processor. Defying all the market trends and evidence and the price rises announced by the other Irish Co-ops, Glanbia announced a price that leaves it three cents per litre adrift of even middle-of-the-road paying Co-ops. In the context of the fact that April and May are peak production months in Ireland and dairy farmers would expect to produce 25 per cent of their annual production in these two months, the Glanbia decision to ‘go low’ meant that someone supplying them with 100,000L for April and May has been paid nearly €3000 less for that milk than the standard price paid by other Co-ops.  Not surprisingly the decision caused much fury and frustration amongst its suppliers – thousands of whom are ICMSA members.  The anger was compounded by the fact that the Ornua Index (Irish Dairy Board Index) translated directly across to a price of 31.4 ct/L and that price is historical in that it represents what Ornua has paid the Co-ops for product supplied. In other words, it’s not ‘current’, it’s what has already been paid.  The Glanbia decision therefore represents a deliberate strategy not to pay farmers the price that the Co-op itself has received. At any time, ICMSA regards this practice as completely unacceptable but in light of the challenges presented by the very difficult Winter 17/18 and Spring 18 that farmers in Ireland have faced, it is quite astonishing. ICMSA has also reiterated our conviction that it is incumbent upon Co-ops to pay the highest base price possible; we do not accept – and we never will – the trend that has begun of paying absolutely bottom base price and then topping that up with special ‘hardship’ or other discretionary bonuses. Farmers do not want payment at the ‘discretion’ of the Co-ops, they want the highest price per litre that the Co-op can pay.  And, to my previous point, they certainly want the same price as was received by the Co-op.

Reaction to Commissioner Hogan’s CAP proposals was one of disappointment: ICMSA believes that proceeding with a reduced CAP budget actually vindicates the Brexiteer bogus argument that CAP was disproportionately subsidised by UK taxpayers.  Reducing the CAP budget is profoundly mistaken, and Ireland would prefer the remaining 27 Member States to increase their national contributions to make good the deficit caused by the UK’s departure. The threat posed to our traditional British markets casts a shadow over much of Irish farming at present but a ray of light was provided by the news that the parliaments of each Member State will have to ratify any proposed Mercosur agreement. The farmer representative groups can lobby to ensure that any Mercosur agreement that’s as obviously detrimental to the interests of EU farmers as the one that’s apparently being proposed can be rejected at that stage. We will work relentlessly to make sure that every member of the Irish parliament knows that the idea that the EU should import 100,000-odd  tonnes of beef from South America produced out of a suspect system that is widely acknowledged to be an environmental threat of global proportions is an absurdity that  cannot be allowed to  happen.

Pat McCormack, member of the EMB Executive Committee and President of the Irish creamery milk suppliers association ICMSA

Drought causes discomfort for Europe's dairy farmers

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© A. Sauvage

Large parts of Europe have experienced major losses due to the continued heatwave. After a wet spring in countries like Ireland, the United Kingdom and France, the dry weather is now negatively affecting pastures, hay and silage production as well as cereal and straw production. As a consequence of the drought, milk producers are missing key, self-produced feed. One can expect production costs to rise due to bought-in feed and the milk yield to suffer.

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Mountain of skimmed milk powder casts its shadow

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© EMB

The EU intervention stock of skimmed milk powder, which was originally 380,000 tonnes, is slowly shrinking. Since December 2016, a total 99,805 tonnes of milk powder have been sold in 21 calls for tender. In 2017, the sales were hesitant and in small amounts, however there was greater movement on this front in early 2018. European intervention storage is still housing about 280,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder.

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Protest against EU dairy policy

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© wikimedia

On 11 June, members of the German small farmers' association AbL and the German dairy farmers' association BDM, together with representatives from environmental organisations and politicians from the Greens, expressed clear criticism against EU dairy policy in Aschendorf (Lower Saxony). Why? Because of the milk powder stored there.

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Situation in Spain

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The price of cow milk is decreasing once again in the fourth consecutive month in May 2018, reaching 31.6 cents. We are not happy with the current price situation, but there is a sentiment of resignation and little enthusiasm to mobilise dairy farmers. Farmers are now falling in line and looking at the meagre recovery after years of struggle, people are willing to conform.

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Restructuring a must for the French dairy sector

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© EMB

Since his investiture, Emmanuel Macron has launched the États Généraux de l’Alimentation (EGA), a set of conclusions and policies that obliges different interbranch organisations to propose 'sectoral plans' – in other words, projects for the development and transformation of agricultural and agri-food sectors.

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Interview with Pat McCormack, new EMB board member

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© ICMSA

Pat McCormack from Ireland has been a new member of the Executive Committee of the European Milk Board since mid-April 2018. At 41 years of age, Pat McCormack is the youngest ever President of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), the state’s specialist family dairy farm organisation. He was previously Deputy-president and Chairperson of the Dairy Committee of the Irish federation. The analysis of the milk market is a prerequisite for him to be able to represent the interests of milk producers.

Pat is married and has a young daughter of 4 months.

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