Dairy Forum agrees to establish stakeholder group on farm labour

The third meeting of the Dairy Forum has agreed to form a stakeholder group – to be established by Teagasc – on the topic of farm labour.

The forum was hosted yesterday (Monday, September 25) by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, with key stakeholders from the Irish dairy sector.

Contributions from farm representative bodies, banks, industry representatives and state agencies focused on topics as diverse as: Brexit; market issues; labour and financing needs arising from the dairy expansion; and the potential of grass-fed labelling in the market place.

Yesterday’s discussions were reportedly focused on the strategic approach and a variety of specific actions were agreed in a number of areas.

It was agreed that the stakeholder group to be established by Teagasc on farm labour will be chaired by Tom Moran – a former Secretary General at the Department of Agriculture.

Commenting on this development, Minister Creed said: “The recent focus on labour shortages on dairy farms is one of the challenges of a tremendously successful expansion.

A lot of work has already been undertaken by my department, Teagasc and the industry in relation to this matter, and the establishment of this group – under a very experienced chairman – will bring a new focus to these efforts.

At the request of Minister Creed, Bord Bia provided an update on a market prioritisation exercise currently underway.

This exercise had identified an initial list of priority dairy markets in order to commence a deep-dive analysis of market opportunities by November, according to the department.

It was also agreed that Bord Bia would use its market insights to inform a further examination of the prospects for grass-fed labelling.

Finance and outlook

An exchange of views was also reportedly presented by the main banks, along with a presentation on the market outlook for next year from Ornua.

Minister Creed explained that one of his priorities under the programme for government will be to support the provision of lower cost and more flexible finance for the dairy sector.

I will continue to work with all stakeholders – including the banking sector – to ensure that maximum flexibility is afforded to farmers, in order to help them manage their business in a volatile environment.

“The medium-term market prospects for dairy are good. However, variables such as global supply, grain and oil prices, geopolitical and currency issues will continue to have a significant impact on prices.

“This forum is a really important vehicle for addressing the strategic challenges and opportunities for the sector.

“I am satisfied that we made good progress on some of these issues, and I very much welcome the constructive engagement by stakeholders on a range of matters that will shape their industry into the future,” Minister Creed concluded.