MORE than 150 people turned out for Lisavaird Co-Op’s annual seminar held in Fernhill House in Clonakilty last week, when some interesting views on the current state of dairy markets were exchanged.
Following a presentation from JJ Walsh and Michael Crowley of the Carbery Group on that company’s latest fixed milk price scheme, Ornua’s director of trading, Bernard Condon, presented his views on the present turmoil in dairy markets and the outlook for the year ahead. He predicted an average milk price of 24 to 25 cent per litre for the year, which is below the cost of production for most dairy farmers. He attributed this poor price to a continuing stock overhang from 2014, strong milk flows in 2015 particularly in Europe, a decline in Chinese imports and the ongoing Russian embargo. Mr Condon said that low prices would eventually reduce supply – the question is when?
Mr Joe Burke of Bord Bia outlined the current status of Irish and EU beef markets. He said that there was predicted to be an extra 50,000-80,000 finished cattle available in 2016 as compared to last year and this would inevitably put pressure on prices, particularly at the back end of the year. Live cattle exports fell last year by almost 180,000 head, while calf registrations were up by almost 120,000 head.
There has been some recovery in EU beef consumption for the last three years following big falls between 2011 and 2013. That said, there is currently 300,000 tons less beef being consumed in Europe now than there was five years ago. While Irish beef prices were trading about 7% above continental EU prices for most of 2015, the Irish price has now fallen back to continental levels.
Darragh McCullough, journalist and broadcaster, gave his experience of being involved in a farm partnership in Co Meath. For him, personally, a partnership where there is still some involvement in the business and where he can protect his asset is always preferable to leasing.
He wondered why partnerships are so mistrusted in the farming world when they are so common in other industries. Given the inability to expand on so many West Cork dairy farms due to the unavailability of land, partnerships will have to have a major role into the future.