The 2013 Teagasc National Dairy Conference is taking place today in Limerick and tomorrow in Cavan. The theme for the conference is ‘Strategies for Sustainable Success’.

The conference will outline the key strategic decisions required by farmers in the areas of grassland, breeding and business planning in order to successfully grow their dairy business and to harvest the potential.

Speaking in advance of the conferences, head of dairy knowledge transfer in Teagasc, Tom O’Dwyer said: “The Irish dairy industry is changing. More milk will be produced and processed in the future. Better management practices, especially in the areas of planning and budgeting, will be required to allow this to happen and if dairy farmers are to successfully grow their business. With the abolition of milk quotas in April 2015 just over a year away, it is timely to ask whether Irish dairy farmers are equipped with the necessary planning and budgeting skills needed. Successful dairy farms will be built on a solid, strategic foundation, which will require long-term thinking. But the farmer will also need appropriate technical expertise to make tactical – short-term – adjustments.”

Pat Dillon, head of the animal and grassland, research and innovation programme in Teagasc, recommended that “dairy farmers adopt a ‘fit-for-purpose’ system that will provide a consistent level of production at a consistent cost of production within the general averages of climate, milk price and input price uncertainty.”

He went on to identify two of the pillars of a resilient dairy farm system in Ireland being “the efficient and sustainable utilisation of grazed grass and a ‘fit for purpose’, high EBI animal.”

Finally he highlighted that “expansion will put additional pressures on the existing dairy farm business in terms of repayment capacity; recent research has highlighted the importance of financial management skills in underpinning successful dairy farm businesses”.

AgriLand will be reporting live from Cavan.