The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today announced two new initiatives to assist recent and new entrants to dairy farming as we approach the end of the Milk Quota regime.
The first of the initiatives is a new development programme for recent entrants to dairying, which will be referred to as the ‘Cash Plan 2014’ Programme. While awaiting the finalisation of plans for the new 2015-2020 Rural Development Programme, the Minister has secured a specific funding of €900,000 for a continuation of the up-skilling of personnel involved in the milk supply chain.
It will be targeted at recent entrants to dairying – those who commenced deliveries after 1st April 2008 – to help upskill them on financial management issues particularly on how to go about calculating their costs of production and their on-farm budgets. This will allow them to successfully manage cash flow on an ongoing basis and calculate the cost of producing a litre of milk at the end of each year. The course will be delivered through approved dairy discussion group facilitators and full course details will be announced on the Department’s website shortly.
The Minister commented that “Next year will see the abolition of milk quotas and it is important that recent entrants to dairy farming are equipped with the financial management skills to prosper in the post-quota era. 2015 will also mark the implementation of our new Rural Development Programmes, in which knowledge transfer in the dairy sector will be a significant element. This short, focused, Cash Plan Programme which will help participants understand the importance of farm planning, cash flow and the true cost of producing a litre of milk”. The second initiative relates to making a facility available to those farmers who, prompted by the absence of the requirement to hold a milk quota, plan to enter dairying in 2015. While the calving process in the first quarter of 2015 will mean that they are in a position to make milk deliveries, milk purchasers will not be able to accept their deliveries before March 31st unless the suppliers hold a milk quota as the quota regime remains in force until that date.
In order to address this situation the Minister is proposing to grant a nominal milk quota allocation of 100 litres to such new entrants, thereby legitimising their milk collection before the March 31st deadline. Being able to commence milk production from early spring is based on recommended best practice for dairy production in Ireland as it allows for full exploitation of spring grass thus minimising input costs for farmers. The Minister announced that his Department will announce operational details of the allocation soon but that it will be open to all new entrants to dairying who can demonstrate a supply agreement with a registered milk purchaser.
The Minister commented that “the advantage of adopting this approach is that it will allow these farmers to engage in spring calving by providing them an outlet for their milk from the commencement of their operations. This ensures that they are not at a perpetual disadvantage with regard to their breeding plans for future years. I am announcing this proposal early in order to allow thee farmers to factor this allocation into their breeding plans for the first quarter of 2015”.