‘Milk quota protected against bad prices but it also protected farmers from good prices’

Milk quota gave protection against the bad prices but it also protected farmers from good prices, Co Wicklow dairy farmer Shane O’Loughlin said.

The Wicklow dairy farmer, was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 with Seán O’Rourke about the abolishment of milk quota and said that he will be looking to expand his herd of 85 dairy cow to increase production.

He also said that buying in cows and equipment in one go for dairy expansion may be the fastest way to get rich, but it might be the fastest way to go broke too.

He advised farmers to be weary of expanding quickly. He told farmers in expansion mode to take it gradually, to take what they can afford and to structure their finances.

Projections under Harvest 2020 say Irish milk production may increase by 50% in five years, but a recent Bank of Ireland report found that only one third of dairy farmers who expand over the next five years are likely to see their income significantly increase.

O’Loughlin said he would like to see his own milk production increase by 50%, but that he wants to do it and make money out of it.

He will be increasing his own milk production slowly, he said.

Expanding dairy farmers, he said, will need more cows and in turn more feed for them, while he will be restricted by land availability and will be utilising rented land to make more feed for his herd.

The Wicklow farmer said that there are advantages and pitfalls to the milk quota abolishment.

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