A new national dairy forum, instigated by Waterford TD John Deasy, meets for the first time on Tuesday against the backdrop of a significant slump in milk prices.
Chaired by agriculture minister Simon Coveney, the meeting will be attended by senior Department officials, as well as representatives of Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, the EPA, Teagasc, the Irish Cattle Breeders Federation, Animal Health Ireland, the IFA, ICMSA, Macra na Feirme, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, the dairy industry, and the banks.
John Deasy, together with his Cork Fine Gael colleague and dairy farmer Michael Creed, put forward the idea for the forum earlier this year in anticipation of the volatility that would emerge in the post-quota era.
“Farmers need to know that their concerns are being taken seriously and will be acted upon,” the Waterford deputy says. “This is about harnessing every bit of expertise we have to both react to what’s happening right now and to come up with proactive plans based on future trends and areas of opportunity.”
He added: “For example the milk market in Vietnam is worth US$6bn every year and we have very little of it. I believe we need to utilise every arm of the State, including embassy staff in places like Africa, to sell our milk and manage market volatility. The aim here is to coordinate a long-term plan on a global scale.”