Dairy Ireland chairman David Murphy has told AgriLand that the organisation remains committed to espousing the highest management principles for the benefit of milk producers throughout Ireland.

“Our conference, held back in July, was a tremendous success and we intend building on this for the future.

“Our aim is to be totally flexible in the way we operate. Part of this will entail putting out what we regard as relevant information into the public domain for the benefit of local dairy farmers. We are using the format of discussion groups to great effect and again we will continue to develop these opportunities on a need-to-use basis.”

Significantly, the Waterford dairy farmer remains very optimistic regarding the prospects for Irish milk production beyond 2015.

“The problem is getting through the next few months and dealing effectively with the threat of super levy,” he further explained.

“Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney won’t go to Brussels and ask for the system to be tweaked in our favour at this stage. If he tries this, it will only open the door for countries like France and Germany, who want quotas retained, to have this debate re-opened.

“It is crucially important that quotas go in 2015.”

Beyond the ending of milk quotas, Murphy regards the availability of land being the greatest challenge that will confront Irish dairy farmers. He continued: “I am totally confident that Ireland will meet its 2020 milk production targets. The reality is that, as an industry, we have been pegged at 1993 output levels for a generation. And this growth must be achieved by making best use of grazed grass. Building sheds and feeding cows intensively is not compatible with our image as a country producing milk in the most natural way possible.

“It is, therefore, important for steps to be taken, which will allow younger dairy farmers get access to the additional land they will need to increase the scale of their businesses. The upcoming implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy  measures should allow Minister Coveney to address this issue in a proactive manner. Steps should also be taken to introduce new tax incentives, which encourage the transfer form one generation to the next more effectively.”

The Dairy Ireland chairman concluded: “We are not a lobbying group, in that formal sense. However we fully support the work carried out by the likes of the Irish Farmers Association and the ICMSA.

“What we can do, however, is encourage our members and Irish dairy farmers in general to ask the questions of their milk buyers and input suppliers, which go to the very heart of the challenges faced by milk producers the length and breadth of this country.”