Farmers’ views: What are the main challenges facing individual dairy farms?

The future appears bright for the dairy industry in Ireland, but it is not without its challenges.

Dairy farmers flooded from far and wide this week to attend the 2019 Moorepark Open Day, with some searching for answers to the challenges facing the industry.

The attendees were a mixture of dairy farmers, new dairy entrants and industry stakeholders – all coming together for one day; but each with something different to get out of the event.

The willingness of farmers to learn was clearly evident. Farmers crowded around stands eager to learn and gain information that they could bring home and apply to their own farm.

There was a particular interest in the sustainability village – including the stand on protected urea and low-emission slurry spreading – showing farmers’ curiosity and openness to new technologies for reducing their environmental impact.

Although the day was filled with positivity about the sector, dairy farmers are facing new challenges now and in the future.

At the open day, AgriLand asked dairy farmers what the biggest challenges are facing their dairy farm now and in the future.

The responses from farmers were mixed. One farmer said “labour” was an issue, “particularly part-time labour”.

Another farmer said succession was an issue for him because “he has only one son who is not interested in the farm”.

For him, the task now is trying to make his farm a more attractive place to work for someone else to take over when the time comes.

Another farmer added that finding a home for the bull calves was a challenge and hopes that if sexed semen becomes more proven it will be the answer to the issue.

Volatility was another common answer from farmers along with the uncertainty on what is going to happen with Brexit.