Kerry celebrates 25 years of ‘joint programme success’

Celebrating 25 years of working collaboratively since 1994, Kerry Agribusiness and Teagasc have said their joint programme was “an innovative concept of peer-led learning and knowledge transfer”.

According to a statement from Teagasc, this was the first such programme in Ireland and formed the foundation of sustainable dairy production within the Kerry Agribusiness milk supplier base.

Over the 25-year period, the joint programme was implemented across counties Kerry, Limerick, Clare and north Co. Cork.

To date, 76 monitor farmers and their families have participated in the joint programme.

According to Teagasc, improvement in the milk composition of the monitor farms over the 25 years equates to an additional 5.5c/L, or €16,500 per annum, for a supplier delivering 300,000L.

Teagasc explained the extended grazing and improvement in dairy EBI equates to a significant reduction in carbon emissions and the substantial increase in the average EBI on monitor farms is equivalent to €350/cow additional profit.

The programme supported suppliers to profitably avail of opportunities that arose following the abolition of the EU milk quota system in 2015, highlighting the importance of cost-effective expansion in milk production, Teagasc says.

Commenting on the programme, head of Kerry Agribusiness Pat Murphy said: “Tremendous progress has been made by the participating monitor farmers and by all dairy farmers in the Kerry catchment area over the past 25 years.

“The focus on increasing milk solids, extending the grazing season and utilising as much grass as possible, herd health and sustainable expansion, has made dairy farming much more profitable and environmentally compliant in recent years.

Dairy sustainability would need much focus in the coming years and the Joint Programme would facilitate this.

Teagasc’s director, Prof. Gerry Boyle, thanked the farmers and their families who participated in the joint programme over the years.

He also expressed his thanks to the staff from both Kerry Agribusiness and Teagasc who provided “the leadership and technical knowledge which has made it such a success”.

Concluding, he said: “This same level of teamwork will be needed to meet the challenges facing dairy farmers in the future.”