With the ending of quotas in April of this year, Cork is now poised to become the world’s fastest growing developed dairy region over the next decade, according to a new report.
The report predicts increased dairy exports from Cork of €450 million by 2020 leading to 4,000 extra Cork jobs.
A major new report launched today by Cork County Council and Cork Institute of Technology, authored by Declan O’Connor and Michael Keane, predicts that County Cork can anticipate a 50% increase in milk output by 2020.
The report says this will be of enormous benefit for both the county and the country.
It finds that Cork is very favourably positioned to take advantage of the excellent longer term international market prospects and the highly competitive position of Ireland and especially Cork in meeting global demand. It says this arises in the first instance from the expansion plans of Cork’s 4,500 dairy farmers who have a current average herd size of 70 cows and who produce over a quarter of the national milk output.
According to the authors of the report while dairying has always been a major industry in Cork, expansion has been greatly curtailed over the past 30 years due to EU milk quotas.
With the ending of quotas in April of this year, Cork is now poised to become the world’s fastest growing developed dairy region over the next decade, the report says.
The report also identifies a number of threats which are outlined in the report, such as unfavourable weather, animal health, environmental issues, as well as scarcity of labour, capital and land for expanding farmers.
“There is also the current worry of lower milk prices in 2015. While the latter is a major short-term concern, it is seen as part of the normal pattern of dairy commodity price volatility as previously occurred in 2009.
“Just like six years ago this difficult period is expected to be short-term and the longer term market prospects are very favourable. The authors conclude that all of these threats are manageable and are not likely to unduly constrain the expected major expansion now underway,” it says.
The Report says it will be very important, in order to fully realise Cork’s dairy potential, that all required links in the chain are fully in place.
In that regard the report points out that it is vital that Cork’s physical infrastructure, such as the road network, water supplies, planning, energy and communications services are not neglected. Already the budget for investment in the vital road network has been greatly reduced and the rapid dairy expansion will result in greatly increased traffic in milk tankers, as well as animal feed, fertiliser, silage, slurry and other farm vehicles throughout the county.
The report details the additional investment in the road network that is now necessary to avoid self-inflicted constraints that would inhibit the realisation of the great opportunity that lies ahead. The report highlights the need for an investment of €4.2m to 2020 for additional road maintenance and €1.5m per annum thereafter.