The changes to the April milk league come about mostly as a result of milk price reductions due to the removal of weather and input support payments. North Cork tops the league this month, followed closely by Lakeland and Arrabawn in division one.

The west Cork co-ops that topped the league last month are relegated to division two for April as the 5c/l support payment that was included in the March milk payment did not come in the April payment.

North Cork and Arrabawn are the only co-ops to increase the price received for April, with a 2c/l and a 1.5c/l price increase, respectively.

As if the waters around milk price weren’t already muddied enough, most of the co-ops have some sort of support payment in place and most cut that support this month even though they can claim that base price stayed the same.

In reality, what matters to farmers is the totality of the payment and in most cases that was less in April than it was in March.

At the bottom of the league for April is Tipperary Co-op which is joined by Dairygold in division three. Tipperary has been in division three all year and the difference in cumulative payments is really beginning to show.

There is a difference of over €3,300 in the cumulative payment at national average solids between a typical supplier to Tipperary Co-op and if the same supplier was with Lakeland.

For the April payment alone, the difference is €1,700 between the top and the bottom of the league.

I have included the unconditional part of the sustainability bonus into the west Cork co-op’s monthly payment for this month. This corresponds to 0.75c/l as opposed to the full 1c/l which is paid at year end.

The part of the payment for protected urea usage is excluded as this is conditional on doing business with the co-op and only unconditional payments are included in the milk league.

International dairy markets continue to strengthen with butter and powder prices soaring in the European spot markets and at the Global Dairy Trade auction. Low global supplies are finally beginning to register with buyers which, if allowed to continue, should point towards real milk price improvements for the second half of the year.

It will all be needed as the bad weather continues to have a big negative impact on milk volumes and fat and protein percentage is still depressed, meaning the price per litre is less than base price, in many cases.