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Minister Launches Dairygold’s New Farm Development Programme Co-op Invests a Total of €750,000 in New Three Year Programme in Association with Teagasc

A new joint programme between Teagasc and Dairygold designed to improve the efficiency and profitability of Dairygold milk suppliers’ farm enterprises was launched in Mallow today by the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney TD.

Dairygold will invest a total of €750,000 in the three-year programme which will run from 2011 to 2013. It will establish nine new Dairygold Demonstration Farms which will act as showcase units for the latest grassland, dairy husbandry and herd health practices from the Teagasc dairy research centre at Moorepark. The Demonstration Farms will provide an essential link between the development of new technology at research level and the adoption of these practices at farm level. Each farm will be overseen by a Teagasc programme adviser and its performance will be recorded with the information on successful practices channeled to all Dairygold milk suppliers through the Co-op’s Discussion Group structure.

This is the fourth in a series of joint Dairygold/Teagasc programmes, which have seen over 1,100 Dairygold milk suppliers participate in the Co-op’s 67 Discussion Groups. The new programme will also seek to promote and extend the successful farm practices to the remaining 1,900 Dairygold milk suppliers who currently do not participate in Discussion Groups. This will be done through the establishment of special interest farm walks for all milk suppliers across the Co-op’s catchment area.

Speaking at the launch Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said:
“I welcome this initiative and congratulate Dairygold and Teagasc for their efforts in establishing it. A key target of the Food Harvest 2020 Report is a 50% increase in national milk production by the end of the decade. Participation in Dairy Discussion Groups, as supported under this Programme, is an important element in helping achieve this ambitious target. Research shows that participation in Discussion Groups has a real and tangible benefit for farmers, with Teagasc measuring this as equivalent to an increase of between one and two cent per litre.”

Speaking about the programme, Dairygold Chief Executive Jim Woulfe said: “Previous Dairygold/Teagasc programmes have been hugely successful in improving dairy farming practices across our supplier base. This programme is especially significant given that the Dairygold supplier base expects to increase milk production on-farm by over 40% following the removal of EU milk quotas in 2015. Dairygold is committed to supporting this ambition in every way it can to ensure that the Co-op and its suppliers can maximise the opportunities that expanded milk production offers. This programme will provide the milk production blueprints that will help our suppliers do just that.”

Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle said: “The Teagasc/Dairygold Joint Programme is hugely important to both partners. Now in existence for almost 20 years, this initiative has enabled the Teagasc advisory service to provide additional staff resources to target the development of dairy farming in the Dairygold area. This has ensured increased impact of key messages. It has promoted best practice for farmers in the areas of grassland management, breeding and financial management through discussion groups and through the monitor farm programme. Teagasc is committed to working with industry partners, and firmly believes that joint programmes are an effective and sustainable model for a public/private advisory service.”

The Dairygold/Teagasc joint programme has five main objectives:

  1. The improvement of grassland productivity to increase milk solids production/ha.
  2. To promote earlier and more compact calving to flatten the milk production curve, thus improving efficiency.
  3. Help dairy farmers plan for profitable milk expansion to ensure long term viability.
  4. Meet future animal health standards to help expand market accessibility and secure higher value markets.
  5. Achieve on-farm cost efficiency to help cope with future milk price volatility.

Mr Woulfe concluded: “I look forward to the programme building on the success of previous ones to prepare our milk suppliers to take full advantage of the opportunities that a post-quota milk production expansion can offer both milk suppliers and the Co-op.”