Dairy farmers will take year to make up for lost ground

BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER

DAIRY farmers in Galway probably won’t ‘catch up’ as regards grass, silage and finance until well into next year, following one of the worst Winter/Spring periods in living memory, it was claimed this week.

Galway IFA Dairy Committee Chairman, Charlie Whiriskey, told the Farming Tribune that despite improvements in milk prices – brought about by a buoyant world market for dairy products – it has been a shockingly costly five or six months period for dairy farmers in the county.

The heavy rains of last week exacerbated an already disastrous Spring fodder crisis with the meal bills of dairy farmers ‘going through the roof’ in the absence of early grass and a rapidly dwindling supply of silage.

Arrabawn’s March milk price has come in at 35 cent per litre (c/l) including VAT while Connacht Gold are paying 33.85c/l plus VAT but that latter price includes a 1.4c/l early calving bonus.

“What is absolutely crucial for dairy farmers as the early Summer period approaches is that we are paid adequately for the peak production months of April, May and June.

“These are the months during which dairy farmers in the county need to try and recoup some of the feed outlay costs that they have incurred over recent months,” said Charlie Whiriskey.

He said that following the complete absence of growth during the month of March, the heavy rains of last week came at just the wrong time for farmers waiting to put animals out to grass.

“Input costs have really spiralled over the past couple of years and farmers have just no control over that. Farmers have taken a huge hit especially in the cost of meal – the timing of that, after the Winter and Spring we’ve had, could not be worse,” he said.