6,000 Opportunities in Dairy Farming Over the Next Decade
A Teagasc report on the future people requirements of Irish dairy farming was published in Dublin today, Friday 2 June. The People in Dairy Project Report identifies the need for 6,000 people to enter dairy farming over the next 9 years. This is made up of 2,000 new employment opportunities and 4,000 people to provide for regeneration of existing dairy farmers.
Launching the report, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD acknowledged the importance of dairy farming to rural Ireland and the contribution it makes to economic activity and employment in rural areas. He welcomed the report which outlines future employment opportunities and how to sustainably support the sector as it grows in the years ahead.
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle encouraged young people to consider a career in dairy farming. He said; “Dairy farming can be a financially rewarding and enjoyable business which provides a good standard of living and a good work life balance. This can be achieved by having labour efficient set ups that make the day to day workload easier. There are opportunities for people to follow an attractive career in dairy farming and the opportunity for family farms to expand to improve their viability in the future.”
A skilled workforce is seen as strategically important to the sector. One of the report’s authors, Paidi Kelly said; “The dairy industry needs to rethink its attitude to career pathways, training and accreditation while maintaining an integrated model of formal and informal training, including farm placement. “
Actions are needed across the industry to ensure these opportunities are filled. Paidi Kelly said; “We need collective industry action to focus on making dairy farming a better career for everyone in the sector, for both farmers and employees. This will help attract more people.”
The report was prompted by the dramatic change in the structure of Irish dairy farming in recent years. Average herd size has increased from 54 cows in 2005, to 76 cows in 2016, while dairy farmer numbers remained relatively static since 2010. The proportion of dairy cows in herds of 100 cows or greater increased from 13% in 2005 to 47% in 2016.
The industry is facing a shortage of new young recruits. Dr Pat Dillon, Head of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland, Research and Innovation programme said; “With the average dairy farmer currently 58 years old, this report estimates that Ireland will need approximately 6,000 new entrants over the next decade to replace retirees and meet the requirements of expanding herds. Equally there will be a requirement for a much greater supply of seasonal labour to cope with the additional workload during calving and breeding.”
Dr Dillon continued; ”There are brilliant examples of people who are making very successful careers for themselves in Irish dairying. Many of these don't own any land and some are even not from farms. There are exciting opportunities in the sector for people from all backgrounds, farming and non-farming.”
The full report can be viewed below.