Teagasc Outlines Dairy Industry Challenges
17 November 2004
The Irish dairy industry must urgently put structures in place, both on-farm and outside the farm gate, that ensure painless transition to farming in a world without quotas and at world prices, according to a leading Teagasc dairy expert.
Matt Ryan, Dairy Programme Manager with Teagasc, told the Teagasc National Dairy Conference in Cork that dairy farmers are now entering the pre-quota abolition period.
“The reforms now coming into effect, which involve de-coupled payments and reduced price supports, will cover the period until 2013. The projected drop in milk prices will be cushioned by direct payments. However, the long-term viability of the industry will be dependent on dairy farms with sufficient scale and productivity and by an innovative and aggressive processing and marketing sector”, said Matt Ryan.
Mr. Ryan, who is responsible for leading Teagasc’s national dairy advisory programme, said the new reforms provide a more attractive exit strategy for farmers who wish to cease producing milk. This will result in a larger pool of milk for farmers remaining in the sector.
“For those who remain the focus must be on adoption of superior breeding strategies, utilising grass to the maximum and implementing the most labour-efficient systems of production.”
While change is inevitable, Irish dairy farmers are in a much better position than most of their competitors to successfully address these changes,” he said.
“The majority of farmers can lift profitability by at least €100 per cow. For example, lengthening the grazing season by four weeks and adopting better grassland management throughout the grazing seasons can, on their own, lift profit by €100/cow,” he added.
He said active participation in a discussion group is a proven method of income improvement in dairy farming. Teagasc currently operates 260 discussion groups nationwide, each with a membership of 10-15 farmers.
Recent surveys have shown that members of groups adopt new technology at a much faster rate and benefit greatly from the experiences of other group members in solving problems and confronting major decisions on the future of their farms.
“Groups tend to check their ideas more thoroughly and make better decisions than individuals,” he said.
Matt Ryan announced details of an intensive Teagasc advisory programme, involving 100 specialised advisers, dedicated to helping dairy farmers adopt the best technology for profitable and sustainable production. The programme will involve over 100 dairy monitor farms throughout the country. These will be used to demonstrate what can be achieved by farmers using the latest research from Teagasc.
Proceedings of the National Dairy Conference are available. (1.47MB PDF document)