Low incomes in times of low milk prices are not inevitable, with the right risk management tools – this was IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman Sean O’Leary’s provocative way of summing up the topic for next week’s joint IFA/FCStone Conference, to be opened on Wednesday 4th May by newly–elected IFA President Joe Healy.
President Joe Healy said: “At a time when milk is selling below the cost of production, and farmers’ incomes are under huge pressure, this conference aims to focus the dairy industry on developing more tools farmers can utilise to help them manage the periods of low returns which come with price volatility.
“This is why we have invited all co-op board members, management teams, stakeholder decision makers and farmers to join us and our exceptional line-up of high calibre speakers next Wednesday at the Heritage, Killenard.”
Sean O’Leary added: “I believe this year is showing that our sector is reliant on letting farmers take too much of the market risk. We need to put a lot more effort into developing means of alleviating the burden on farmers. In the short term, this needs to be by way of milk price support, and sharing of margins.
“For the longer term, we need an industry’s development strategy that includes a suite of tools allowing farmers to smooth out their incomes over peaks and troughs. While part of this tool kit must include flexible finance from banks and responsive farm taxation from government, we will be focusing during the conference on what our industry must do to help farmers cope.
“IFA has come together with FCStone to provide a better understanding of the drivers of volatility, and the types of instruments that already exist elsewhere to help farmers cope with it. We will hear from Joe and Diane Thome, who farm Redtail Ridge Dairy in Malone, Wisconsin, who will tell us how they developed their farm from 70 to 1300 cows over 20 years, thanks to a variety of hedging, margin insurance and other risk management tools.
“Finally, a round table discussion with full audience participation will aim to encourage the Irish dairy industry to develop a model for risk management tools suited to Irish dairy farmers’ needs”.
All interested can book one of our limited places for €50 including lunch – at www.ifa.ie/dairy Places are limited, so early booking is recommended.
The full conference programme is available here