‘The right technology fuels dairy expansion sustainably’

The expansion of the Irish dairy industry has been of considerable financial benefit to both family farms and the wider rural economy over the last three years, according to the Director of Teagasc.

Prof. Gerry Boyle was speaking at the Teagasc Moorepark dairy open day in Fermoy, Co. Cork, today, July 4. Further expansion will depend on the adoption of ‘Resilient Technologies‘.

This topic is the overall theme of the open day, which is currently hosting thousands of farmers from around the country and further afield.

Boyle said: “It’s now over two years since milk quotas were abolished and dairy farmers have made significant productivity gains in that period.

It shows how the technologies being applied at farm level, especially in relation to animal breeding and grassland management, are fuelling this expansion in a sustainable way.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, also spoke on the matter, stating: “Irish dairy farming is in a very positive position, but we must continue to focus on resilient technologies which allow us to maintain our competitive advantage in milk production.”

Elaborating, he said: “Our unique grass-based milk production, from family farms in Ireland, is a sustainable model. 2017 is designated as the ‘Year of Sustainable Grassland’ to celebrate this most important productive and sustainable source of livestock nutrition.

The benefits of growing and utilising grass to its optimum is well demonstrated by Teagasc here in Moorepark today.

Dr. Pat Dillon, Head of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme, commented, noting: “The sector is now facing a number of challenges, such as price volatility, a shortage in the availability of skilled labour, the requirement to increase sustainability and, of course, Brexit.

“So it’s important that farmers adopt resilient technologies to insulate against these challenges.

“Additionally, the farm business must remain resilient in terms of debt level, where all investment decisions are based on a comprehensive business plan and budget.”

The Teagasc Moorepark open day forum is currently taking place this afternoon. Two panel discussions on key issues facing the Irish dairy industry over the next decade are underway.

The first scheduled discussion was titled: ‘Brexit and Irish Dairying’, involving a panel comprising: Michael Creed, Prof. Gerry Boyle (Teagasc), Kevin Lane (Ornua) and Prof. Colm McCarthy (UCD).

The next scheduled discussion was titled: ‘How attractive is a career in dairy farming?’, with a discussion panel including: Padraig Walshe (dairy farmer and former IFA president), Ann Moore (dairy farmer), Gillian O’Sullivan (dairy farmer), Billy Curtin (dairy farmer) and David Kerr (dairy farmer).

A new handbook, titled ‘Farm Infrastructure’, which was written by Teagasc with the support of Ulster Bank, also had its official launch at the event.

The book focuses on various key aspects – from economic, environmental, animal welfare and labour efficiency perspectives.

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