Minister expects numbers converting from beef to dairy to be ‘modest’

Some farmers in the beef sector will make that switch though in the context of the numbers in each sector, the number will be ‘relatively modest’ according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

He said in this context, constraints on land and the capital investment required to move to the dairy sector will remain as barriers.

Minister Coveney made the comments in response to a parliamentary question on the number of farmers converting from beef to dairy at present.

Citing Department of Agriculture figures he said during the period 2009 to 2013, Just over 400 farmers received quota allocations form the New Entrants to Dairying Scheme in that period.

He said an analysis of successful applicants for the period 2009 to 2011, involving 230 applicants, indicated 58% were involved in beef production of some description at the time of application and that a further 25% were involved in mixed farming which would include some beef as well.

“There is nothing to suggest that this trend was not followed in the remaining two years of the Scheme. It is of course a common feature in Irish agriculture for dairy farmers to have a beef enterprise as part of their farm as quota constraints limited the size of their dairy output,” he said.

Converting from beef to dairy

Minister Coveney said the abolition of quotas may see these farmers divest themselves of the beef cattle in order to use their available land for dairy production and maximise their output.

He added with the advent of a milk quota free environment from 2015, there will be more opportunities for farmers in other sectors, including the beef sector, to consider whether dairy production is a viable alternative for their enterprises.

“I expect that some farmers in the beef sector will make that switch though in the context of the numbers in each sector, I believe that the number converting will be relatively modest. In this context, constraints on land and the capital investment required to move to the dairy sector will remain as barriers.”

The Minister said he is confident that the beef sector will continue to strengthen its position as one of the biggest net exporters in the world.

Indeed, he added that the expansion in the dairy sector will also provide new opportunities for the beef sector, both at producer and processor level, in terms of adding value to the increased progeny of these dairy cows or rearing replacements on a contract or partnership basis.

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