With regard to the milk price controversy, I am aware that the big co-ops are sending representatives around to farmers informing them that they must join up with the An Board Bia Quality Assurance Scheme for the Dairy Industry. I have spoken to a number of people in the dairy sector who would have efficient and compliant set ups, but these reps from the co-ops are drawing up lists of work required which in some cases could cost up to 10,000 Euro to complete at a time when milk prices are at an all time low. The co -ops should shoulder part of the cost or else they should abandon this activity until farmers are getting at least 10cent more for their milk.
I hope that we are not going down a road in the quality assurance sector like the situation we have seen in the beef sector where factories, when supplies were plentiful, went to every extreme with regard to quality assurance. Indeed they cut farmers if they we were not the scheme, but then when supplies were tight, they didn’t mind if a farmer never had quality assurance. I have said before that I fear that dairy farmers are being brought a dangerous road of a bubble and of over regulation and I would urge caution rather than farmers going deeply into debt.
By the actions of these people in the co-ops at the moment the smaller family farm is once again being out under pressure and they are trying to squeeze it out of the system. It is landlordism from large players which is not good for rural Ireland because 90% of what the family farms earn is spent locally. I for one do not want to see this situation develop and come back into Irish rural life.