According to Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle, the biggest challenge facing his organisation over the coming years will be that of supporting the envisaged growth in the Irish dairy sector. Speaking to Agriland at today’s Agricultural Science Association (ASA) annual conference, he added:

“There is little doubt that Irish milk output will increase by at least 50% over the coming years. In fact the harvest 2020 figure may well be a bit on the conservative side. We envisage that most of this expansion will come from existing dairy farmers with a smaller proportion coming from new entrants.

“As part of this process, we may well see existing farmers ease back on other enterprises in order to allow them keep more dairy cows.”

But the Teagasc supremo was at pains to point out that expansion for its own sake would not a panacea for those farmers producing milking inefficiently at the present time.

“The starting point for every existing dairy farming business is to identify how they can improve efficiency levels now. And our staff are available to advise on these matters.”

Gerry Boyle also pointed out that Teagasc advisors are not actively encouraging new entrants into milk.

“Nor, for that matter, are we encouraging existing producers to expand,” he stressed.

“What we are doing is laying out all the options for those farmers seeking to assess their possible future options in milk.

“Farmers can then make up their own minds in terms of how they see the future. But I can also confirm that our advisors are ready, willing and able to work proactively with those producers who commit to an investment in milk production.”

He concluded: “There is a bright future for milk production in Ireland. And Teagasc will play a central role in allowing farmers to realise all of this potential.”