Ireland records biggest jump in milk output since quotas

Latest CSO figures show production here grew by more than 18% since April 2015


Ireland has recorded the biggest jump in milk production of any EU state since the lifting of quotas last year.

Figures from Central Statistics Office (CSO) show milk output here rose by 18.5 per cent to more than 6.5 billion litres in the 12 months since April 2015, effectively the first full year of quota free production.

This was the biggest jump in output recorded across Europe’s main milk producers, eclipsing Belgium and the Netherlands, which saw increases of 14.2 per cent and 11.9 per cent respectively.

Germany and France, Europe’s largest producers, recorded output increases of 3.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent.

The two-year slump in dairy markets was originally blamed on a fall-off in Chinese demand and the Russian import ban.

However, more recently overproduction in Europe since the lifting of quotas has been cited as the main downward pressure on price.

EU agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan last week raised the heckles of the industry here by suggesting European producers were partly to blame of the current downturn.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) claimed the commissioner was completely wrong in attempting to “make farmers responsible for the dairy farmer income wipe-out when the blame for the current crisis lay squarely with the EU Commission, individual national governments and processors.”

“The reality is that individual farmers are being forced to produce more and more in an effort to simply try and stand still and unless their processor decides to implement a voluntary supply reduction scheme, the farmer simply has no other option,” said ICMSA boss John Comer.

Significantly, the CSO figures show domestic milk intake by creameries and pasteurisers was estimated at 752.1 million litres for April, 4.1 per cent below the corresponding 2015 figure, suggest the prolonged slump is having an affect on supply.

The figures also show total milk sold for human consumption increased by 9.7 per cent to 43.5 million litres, while butter production was up 8.6 per cent to 22,000 tonnes.