Speaking following a meeting with Connacht Gold, Mr. Dominic Cronin, Chairperson of ICMSA’s Dairy Committee has stated that a decision of Connacht Gold to raise the price of milk in both March and April is a welcome development, but he repeated ICMSA’s opinion that the Co-op needs to go further to bridge the gap with the highest-paying Co-ops and to reflect the improved returns in the market place at this time. ‘The current gap between Connacht Gold and the highest-paying Co-ops is 1.5c/litre and it is now essential that Connacht Gold bridges this gap and returns a further improved milk price to milk producers in the west of Ireland’, stated Mr. Cronin. ‘The market place has improved substantially since last July for all Co-op and it is now imperative that these improved returns are now returned — in full — to their milk producers who are facing substantially increased feed, fertiliser and energy costs’, continued the Dairy Chairman. Mr. Cronin expressed confidence that Connacht Gold would respond positively again and suggested that Connacht Gold should now review its April milk price increase upwards to the levels being paid by other Co-ops to reflect the further improvement in market returns. ICMSA also raised the issue of the lactose penalties suffered by farmers, suggested reforms of those penalties and the need for greater transparency in milk testing. These are issues in relation to Connacht Gold’s milk price policy that need to be addressed as a matter of priority, concluded Mr. Cronin.