Dairy farmers in Ireland and the UK are being asked to give their opinions on where they see the sector going in the next few years.

Dr. Orla Shortall – a researcher in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS) research group at the James Hutton Institute – is currently undertaking a British academy postdoctoral fellowship on the project ‘Cows eat grass don’t they? Exploring values and visions of indoor and outdoor dairy farming in the UK and Ireland’.

Taking between 10 to 15 minutes to complete, the survey is open to any commercial dairy farmers in the Republic of Ireland and the UK.

Questions are set to focus on production systems and opinions. Farmer, stakeholder and public views about the future of the dairy sectors on both sides of the Irish Sea will be central to the project.

Commenting on the survey, Shortall said: “Ireland and the UK make for a very interesting comparison.

“The UK sector is made up of a variety of production systems; from low input to high input indoor systems, whereas the Irish sector is more uniformly pasture based.

“I’m very interested to hear farmers’ views about how they want the sector to change post-quotas.

“Whether pasture is the future or if there’s an appetite for different production systems,” she concluded.

Shortall’s project is funded by the British Academy and runs from 2018-2021.

As a gesture of goodwill, £2 (€2.24) will be donated to various pre-selected charities. One of the projects to benefit from this will be the ‘Mind our Farm Families’ phone line – which is run by Pieta House and the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

More information about the project can be found here. Anyone interested in taking in the survey can click here.