Plans have been set in motion in Co. Cork to develop an educational course on price and income volatility for dairy farmers.

Working in collaboration with Cork County Council, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) is in the first stages of developing a dedicated education offering for Cork-based dairy farmers to allow them to acquire a new skillset.

Price and income volatility is an established and recognised challenge for the dairy sector – with milk prices having fluctuated significantly over the last couple of years.

According to CIT, extremely low dairy product prices cause many financial problems for dairies and farmers alike – and can ultimately threaten solvency. Meanwhile, extremely high prices result in product substitution which can subsequently be difficult or impossible to reverse, it added.

There is also the danger that extreme volatility can hinder research and innovation. Appropriate tools and solutions can enhance sustainability and competitiveness in the dairy sector.

Tools such as diversification, forward contracts, dairy derivative contracts and insurance to policy initiatives can all be used to help manage volatility, the course organisers added.

But each stakeholder in the supply chain can respond differently to volatility based on their own unique circumstances. Because of this, no single tool is suitable for all stakeholders.

As a result, a suite of tools and mechanisms have been developed. However, the organisers of the proposed course believe the use and growth of these tools is conditional on the stakeholders in the sector understanding their use and role in managing price and income volatility.

Consultation events

In order to gather a broad range of views from the dairy sector, a number of information and consultation events will be held across Co. Cork in the coming weeks.

Dairy farmers based in Co. Cork – of which there is approximately 4,500 – are encouraged to attend one of these events and invitations have also been sent out to the various processors in the county.

There are two objectives for these events, according to CIT’s Dr. Declan O’Connor. The first will be to educate farmers about what volatility actually means, and the second will be to gather information on whether there would be further appetite for a more in-depth workshop on the topic of income and price volatility.

He added: “We are particularly interested in seeking the views of the various stakeholders, including farmers, on the structure and content of these bespoke education offerings.”

The information and consultation events will take place on:
  • Wednesday, November 29, Fernhill House Hotel, Clonakilty, 7:30pm-9:30pm;
  • Wednesday, December 6, Hibernian Hotel, Mallow, 7:30pm-9.30pm;
  • Monday, December 11, Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, 7:30pm-9:30pm.

Commenting on the developments, CIT’s vice president for external affairs, Dr. Orla Flynn said: “CIT is delighted to have the support of Cork County Council as we seek to address the education gap in this area.”

No advance reservation is necessary if a farmer wishes to attend one of the consultation and information evening. Anyone with a query can send an email to: [email protected]