Former Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Padraig Walshe has told AgriLand that the prospects for milk moving forward remain extremely good. “But we must maximise the potential of our green image,” he stressed.

“We are the only country in Europe that produces significant quantities of milk from grazed grass. Our climate and our ability to grow grass for most of the year are the key factors that will open up markets around the world for us. It would be absolute madness for Ireland to turn its back on these tremendous advantages

The Laois milk producer made these comments while attending Day One of the National Ploughing Championships.

He continued: “The option of putting up sheds and milking cows indoors the year round is not an option for Ireland. This approach simply puts on the same level as dairy farmers in many other countries around the world.

“This approach to milk production also comes with the drawback that Irish dairy farmers do not have year round access to cheap commodities.”

Commenting on the possible outcomes of the The EU Dairy Sector: Developing Beyond 2015 conference, taking place in Brussels today, Padraig Walshe felt that the event would not have a major impact on how Ireland developed its dairy sector over the coming years.

“I know the French are seeking to re-introduce a form of quota system through the back door,” he further explained.

“In my opinion, there is no stomach in the rest of Europe for an approach of this nature to be taken. I am confident that milk prices will remain reasonably buoyant over the coming years/. The growth in demand for dairy products should allow this to happen.”

Walshe concluded: “However, the EU must put a realistic safety net in place. Irish dairy farmers need only look back to 2009 for evidence of what can happen when international commodity markets take a tumble.”

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