The “farce” of the state’s milk policy is a major threat to the local economy


The government has been accused of conducting a regulatory “pincer movement” in Ireland’s dairy heartland.

Poor bodies say farmers in dairy strongholds face a dual threat by meeting onerous new nitrate regulations and the state’s binding target of cutting farm emissions by 25 percent.

Concerns are growing about the impact of these measures in areas that have been the economic engine of Irish agriculture for the past decade.

Speaking of Independent FarmingICMSA President Pat McCormack said the government is conducting “whether intentionally or not” a regulatory pincer movement in the dairy sector that he said will inevitably shave hundreds of millions off certain local economies.

“The government’s stance seems to be that because the cow reductions cannot be directly attributed to the emissions deal, they cannot be accused of telling blatant untruths.

“But mandatory herd reductions are mandatory herd reductions and the ‘headline’ under which they are enforced is utterly irrelevant. They’re not fooling anyone and they should stop trying,” Mr McCormack said.

He added that the magnitude of the loss to the local economy from the reduction in milk production alone would be enormous, and most politicians and observers seemed unaware of the magnitude.

“A reasonable approximation would have paid Irish dairy farmers 4 billion euros by June,” he said.

“If we consider that Cork produces around 25 per cent of all our milk then we see that the payment received from farmers alone is worth around €1 billion and then we apply the standard multiplier of 1.8 used by dairy farms and flowing into their local economy is contractors, feed traders, construction and steel, fuel and insurance and you can see that the dairy sector – without any processing or value added – is worth €3 billion in Cork alone. Then look at Tipperary or Limerick or Waterford or Kilkenny.

“If the emissions/nitrates pincer movement has reduced milk production by say 10 per cent then people need to realize that 300 million euros a year is pouring out of Cork’s local economy.

“Pro rata deductions in every county in Ireland too, but you’re going to see a very, very significant drop in local revenue and spending in the counties that produce the most milk.

“The lack of serious analysis of this issue is worrying and points to the type of back-of-the-envelope planning and policies that have dogged this issue from the start.”

This concern was echoed by IFA environment chief Paul O’Brien, who said it was a “farcious situation” where on the one hand the minister is telling farmers that any changes they make are voluntary and on the other hand “he is Tightening the screw to reduce bearing rates. It’s completely disingenuous,” he said. The “farce” of the state’s milk policy is a major threat to the local economy

Fry Electronics Team

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