Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Éamon Ó Cuív TD has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine along with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland to initiate a detailed study of the liquid milk industry in Ireland to ensure continuity of supply and a fair distribution of the profits between primary producer (farmer), processor, distributer and retailer.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “One of the most disturbing aspects of the liquid milk trade in Ireland over recent years has been the fact that the amount being paid to the primary producer has dropped from 43% of the retail price in 1995 to 32% of the retail price in 2011.
“This has made the production of liquid milk, particularly during the winter time, potentially unviable for many farmers and could in the medium term lead to a shortage of fresh milk on our shop shelves during the winter. This fact was confirmed by the National Milk Agency at a recent Committee hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“It is not good enough to wait until a crisis happens to deal with this issue.”
Deputy Ó Cuív added that there are only 1,800 liquid milk producers left in the Republic and if this number were to drop even by a small number the supply situation here could become critical.
“The National Milk Agency was set up in 1994 because of Government concerns regarding the need to ensure continuity of supply, throughout the year, of liquid milk on our shelves.
“With a highly volatile liquid milk situation in Ireland and Britain, it is now incumbent on the two Ministers to take preventive action to ensure that our supermarkets have milk all the year round.
“I am calling on Minister Coveney and Minister O’Neill to act urgently to carry out a study on the liquid milk supply on an All-Ireland basis and to ensure a fair distribution of the money paid by the consumer in the shop between the farmer, processor, distributor and retailer.”