Dairy Farmers Want Action On Prices

Angry dairy farmers are in near revolt as they demand action from European officials over falling farmgate prices.

They are angry over falling milk prices which they said today will put thousands of families out of business.

Thousands of demonstrators marched on Luxembourg with Irish farmers' leader Padraig Walshe warning a price collapse to 1983 levels has thrown the entire industry into crisis.

"Dairy farmers in Ireland are currently selling milk for around seven cent per litre less than it costs them to produce it," Mr Walshe said.

"Prices last seen in 1983, high costs, lack of bank credit and bad weather have created an unprecedented income crisis and unless action is taken, thousands of dairy farm businesses will go broke across Europe.

"The consequences of this income crisis will be felt in businesses and towns and villages across rural Ireland," he said.

Farmers from every county in Ireland, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) and Copa, the European farmers' union, came together for the protest as the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers met.

However motorway roadblocks by French farmers disrupted attempts by several coach-loads of Irish protesters to get into Luxembourg.

Richard Kennedy, who led the national dairy committee at the Luxembourg protest, warned: "The current crisis will hit the more efficient and more heavily invested dairy farmers first, because they have least room for manoeuvre.

"Unless decisive action to support farmers’ incomes is taken urgently, we run the risk of losing some of the very best in the sector, damaging it permanently."

The IFA said it now costs seven cents per litre more to produce milk than what the farmer receives from retail outlets.

It's estimated that Irish farmers could be close on €20,000 worse off this year if the EU fails to address the crisis.

Chairman of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association in Sligo, Ger Queenan, fully supports the farmers going to Luxembourg.

He too said "something needs to be done before it is too late".


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