Dairy farmers facing 'crisis' following severe weather

The IFA says farmers may be forced to dispose of stored milk if it is not collected urgently

Dairy farmers facing 'crisis' following severe weather

Picture by: Rainer Jensen/DPA/PA Images

Updated 15.30

Dairy farms are facing a crisis due to the current weather conditions, according to the head of the Irish Farmers Association.

A rising number of farmers throughout the country are at risk of large financial losses as they cannot collect milk due to snow and ice on roads.

The IFA is urging local authorities to prioritise the clearing of roads leading to dairy farms, as farmers may be forced to dispose of stored milk if it is not collected urgently.

Joe Healy, President of the IFA, says it could cause a massive economic loss to those concerned.

He explained: “Most dairy farms farmers have static refrigerated milk storage tanks that can hold up to two days’ worth of milk. Already, some farmers have filled these and they will have to dispose of milk if it is not collected urgently.  

“This is obviously seriously problematic from a food wastage point of view and would cause a massive economic loss to the farmers concerned. If it continues it could also affect the availability of fresh milk on supermarket shelves."

Mr Healy argued: "It's very much a crisis. There's huge hardship on farmers - they've been working 24/7 to make sure animals are alright, [and] they've been out helping emergency services.

"Now it's a case of having to spill away valuable milk."

'Particular challenge' 

Following a National Emergency Coordination Group meeting earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar highlighted the collection of milk is a particular challenge being prioritised.

He said: "We are working with relevant agencies, local authorities and co-ops to resolve this as quickly as possible."

IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan, meanwhile, welcomed an announcement by Glanbia (Ireland) that they will pay farmers 20c/l for milk that cannot be collected.

Mr Phelan stressed: “This is a welcome signal of support, which we hope others will follow. However, the key issue is try to get milk collections going again.

“It is welcome to hear the Taoiseach state that this will be a priority for councils working with the relevant co-ops. It is important that this translates into real action on the ground."

The IFA stressed that hauliers had done "trojan work" collecting milk before the storm hit, and keeping collections going for as long as possible when the snow first hit on Wednesday and Thursday.