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Teagasc Director’s Address at Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre Open Da

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. You are all very welcome here to the Teagasc research centre in Moorepark

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
You are all very welcome here to the Teagasc research centre in Moorepark

I know this has been a difficult year for you as dairy farmers. Milk prices over recent years have been volatile, climbing to new heights just a few short years ago before declining rapidly this year. This has made managing the finances of your business much more difficult, but it is something we are going to have to get used to. We in Teagasc have set up a new financial service this year which is open to all farmers who require assistance in cash flow planning, or in their preparation to meet with their financial institution or bank, or in the management of their day-to-day financial accounts.

Teagasc advisers have engaged with our clients through the recent financial health check during the Single Farm Payment application consultations. Teagasc has also met with the major banks, farm organizations and merchants, and the messages are the same

  • There are cash flow difficulties on all farms, some are more serious than others.
  • Dairy farms are generally viable and profitable in the long-term.
  • Communication and early intervention are essential, only the farmer can do this.
  • Help is available from advisers, consultants, accountants and bank staff.
  • No one should feel that they are alone in this; every dairy farm is feeling the pressure, talk it trough confidentially with your adviser.

Today’s event here in Teagasc is all about what you as farmers can do inside your farm gate to mitigate against the external changes taking place which you don’t have control over. I am sure you have found the day and the messages being communicated by my colleagues in research and advisory both interesting and stimulating so far.

For me the messages from today are clear. Adapt short-term strategies to survive the low prices this year and in the longer term develop low cost grass-based systems to counteract future milk price volatility.

The cornerstones of such a system are growing and utilising more grass using the technologies outlined here today, and adapting the breeding strategy to have the right cow to turn our natural resource, which is grass, into profit.

The new ‘Pasture Wedge’ which you would have heard about today is a simple way of determining whether you have too much or too little grass for the stock on your farm at any given time. The grassland work book, which you would have received this afternoon, is also a worthwhile tool to see if it can help the profitability of your business.

I would also like to mention another development on display here today which might be of interest to some of you who are thinking of a career in dairy farming. A new dairy degree programme has been introduced by UCD with input from Teagasc Moorepark and Kildalton College and is available this September for the first time ever. A lot of work has gone into devising a degree that meets the requirements of the next generation of dairy farmers so I believe it is worth careful consideration.

Also today, the first meeting took place of a group brought together by Teagasc to carry out a short-term review of dairy markets. This group which is chaired by Michael Keane from UCC, includes representatives from the Irish Dairy Board, ICMSA, ICOS, IFA, Macra Na Feirme, and IBEC. Their work has just begun, but it is hoped to give a better understanding of the factors influencing and impacting the dairy products market.

I would like to thank FBD for their kind support for this event. The FBD Trust has been a generous supporter of the work we undertake to assist dairy farmers and underpin a successful Irish dairy industry.

And with those few words I would like to hand over to Jack Kennedy, dairy editor with the Irish Farmers’ Journal, to chair the next part of this special forum, on ‘Coping with low milk prices in 2009’. I look forward to hearing our five panelists, and their farming experience over the last few months and more importantly their plans for the rest of the year and into next year.

Thank you.