‘Expansion should only be planned if it will result in increased farm profitability’

Expansion should only be planned if it is going to result in increased farm profitability and an improved livelihood for the farm family, according to Teagasc’s Dr. Donal Patton.

The research officer was speaking ahead of the Teagasc Ballyhaise Dairy Open Day for the Irish dairy industry, which is due to take place on Thursday, April 5.

Continuing, Dr. Patton said: “This open day will provide guidance to farm families on how to assess their farm businesses and plan further successful expansion.”

Taking place in Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan, the theme of the open day is ‘Technologies for Resilient Dairying’.

It is hoped the event will give dairy farmers and those involved in the dairy industry the opportunity to view and discuss the latest developments that will help them to increase the profitability of the family-farm business and cope with future challenges such as volatile milk prices.

Ireland’s competitive advantage in milk production is based on the efficient production and utilisation of pasture, according to Teagasc.

The open day aims highlight “the importance of adopting farming systems that are resilient to external forces, and that incorporate sufficient tactical flexibility to overcome unanticipated events”.

Announcing details of the Ballyhaise’18 Open Day, head of the Teagasc Animal Production and Grassland Programme Dr. Pat Dillon said: ”The abolition of milk quotas has provided dairy farmers with significant opportunity for expansion at farm level.

The continuing impressive growth in Irish milk production is a fantastic example of what can be achieved within indigenous rural farming enterprises.

“Further expansion within the sector and – in particular within the border, midlands and western region (BMW) – is expected over the next decade, which will deliver additional jobs on Irish dairy farms.

“Growth in the sector also has a high employment multiplier effect and supports employment in other parts of the economy and in rural areas,” he said.

Special forum

As part of the open day, there will be a network of themed presentations for farmers to visit – which will include information on breeding, grassland and heifer rearing, in addition to the latest results from research trials.

A number of grassland demonstrations will allow farmers to see the practical impacts of various management practices, Teagasc added.

The event will also incorporate a special feature, a forum on ‘Family Farming Careers in Dairying’. The forum will include a panel of researchers and farmers with a range of experiences and at various stages of their farming careers.

It is expected that the panel will also discuss what steps farmers can take to make dairy farming a more attractive career for young people.

An estimated 6,000 people are needed to enter the Irish dairy industry at farm level over the next eight years to replace retiring farmers and meet the additional workload arising from national herd expansion, according to Teagasc.

The Ballyhaise’18 Open Day is a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine knowledge transfer event. It is scheduled to run from 10:00am until 5:00pm on Thursday, April 5, in Teagasc Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. Admission and parking will be free.