The envisaged expansion of the dairy sector post quotas must deliver enhanced income opportunities for Irish milk producers, IFA Deputy President Tim O’Leary has told Agriland.

“Otherwise, what’s the point in it all? Simply producing more milk to keep processers viable is a flawed business plan. Expansion, post quotas, must deliver for every dairy farmer in this country.”

The Cork milk producer was a speaker at today’s Dairy Ireland Conference in Clonmel. Despite the current price volatility challenge that confronts the milk sector, Tim O’Leary firmly believes that the growth targets laid down within the Harvest 2020 strategy document for dairy will be achieved and possibly surpassed.

“The ending of quotas will open up tremendous opportunities for milk producers. Yes the price may well be challenging during the first half of 2015. But this will serve to focus producers’ minds on the need to be as efficient as possible.

“I envisage a year-on-year growth in milk output of around 15% in 2015. A high proportion of this will come in the form of enhanced production levels from cows already on the ground.  Beyond 2015 dairy growth will probably settle down to an annual figure of around 4%. In my opinion, these are sustainable targets. Certainly the young stock are already in the system to make all of this work.”

He also said that the processing sector must take the lead in developing a sustainable future for Ireland’s dairy sector. On the subject of rationalisation, he expressed the view that the smaller co-ops will continue to play a role within the industry.

“I prefer to use the term co-operation. And this is already happening on the ground.

“There is nothing to stop smaller co-ops within a certain geographical joining forces in order to deliver economies of scale without the various entities involved losing their specific identities,” he said.