26 March 1999

End of milk year dash is unlikely to hit quota

DAIRY farmers have their feet firmly on the gas, leading up to next Wednesdays (Mar 31) end of milk year.

The latest Intervention Board figures show unadjusted deliveries in the week to Mar 13 of 257m litres, compared with 247m litres in the same period last year.

The late dash for output follows low production earlier in the season, with butterfat-adjusted cumulative deliveries ending February 0.42% (53m litres) below profile.

But its still unlikely national output will hit quota, says Mark Bray of ADAS. The latest weekly figure marks a drop of 200,000 litres on the previous seven days. "It would appear we have peaked."

Such sentiments, says Mr Bray, have been reflected in the quota market. "Its died a death."

Jim Leamon of Hamiltons also points to the week-on-week drop in output. "It will certainly offer those confident of there being no superlevy further peace of mind."

Milk Marque, meanwhile, has announced a February trading bonus equating to 0.4p/litre on our league table standard litre, down from 0.5p/litre in January.

A drop in constituent prices will also be seen from April, with butterfat down from 1.88p to 1.86p per % and protein cut from 3.180p to 3.145p per%. But this has been mitigated, says Stephen Bates of Wye College, by an increase of 0.2p/litre in hygiene payments.

From April, Avonmore Waterford will drop the base price on the former Avonmore contract from 19.60p to 19.50p/litre for milk of 4% butterfat and 3% protein. And Golden Vale has told farmers that its priceswill also drop. &#42