A trainee dairy farm manager can earn €17,500 a year when training and Ireland needs 150 new dairy farm managers every year to cope with the projected dairy expansion in Ireland.

The Irish Farm Managers Association’s Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (PDDFM) is fully paid course and is looking to increase its student intake from the current number of 16 to 150.

“We believe to truly upskill future dairy farmers and meet the requirement for capable people at farm level there must be 150 graduates per year from the PDDFM,” said John Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Irish Farm Managers Association.

“This will include people who plan to farm at home in the future and those who won’t inherit a farm and will pursue a career in farm management or share farming.”

He also said that more people need to be employed to run the PDDFM.

“There is currently only one person to both support the learning of students in the programme and to promote the course to potential candidates.

“More of the 600 students entering Level 5 education in Teagasc every year must be recruited.”

He also said that the PDDFM should include an option to pursue a Level 8 qualification so as to attract ambitious students seeking a degree level qualification.

There are currently 600 students entering Level 5 education in the Agricultural Colleges and this group of 600 students are the primary target in terms of candidates for the Diploma in Dairy Farm Management, he said.

“Having consulted with Dairygold and Kerry Group, they each believed that they need approximately 75 highly skilled young people entering the dairy industry in their respective catchment areas. This is not taking into consideration the requirements of all other dairy producing areas of the country.”

He said that anyone undertaking a college course is paying in the region of €7,000-€8,000 a year, while the Diploma in Dairy Farm Management has a payment involved for those undertaking it that amounts to €17,500 during the two year course.

The two-year course sees students working on two Irish farms with the option of going to New Zealand for a six month placement.

The closing date is Friday, April 17 and applications should be made through the Teagasc website. Anyone applying needs to have a minimum qualification of a Level 6 in agriculture.