Ireland needs a greater numbers of better educated young farmers, according to Director of Research at Teagasc Frank O’Mara.

There is a proven line between educational standards and farmers’ willingness to introduce new thinking and technologies within their businesses, he said.

“We have seen a recent increase in the numbers of young people applying for farm-related educational courses. But we must keep up this momentum.”

O’Meara was speaking prior to the commencement of today’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference in Mullingar.

We need to attract more young people into the industry and this will be an ongoing challenge moving forward.

Macra na Feirme President Sean Finan, who also attended the event, said that improved knowledge transfer has the potential to quadruple farm output in Ireland.

“But we also need to see enhanced training opportunities for existing farmers,” he said.

Referring specifically to the needs of new entrants, Finan confirmed that Macra will soon be rolling out its land mobility service on a countrywide basis.

“The scheme is working and this is a good news story. But we also need to see the plethora of farm schemes introduced in this country made young farmer friendly.

In practical terms, this means specifically allocating an agreed portion of the budget available for young producers.

“This is an issue which a number of farming organisations have failed to endorse, up to this point.”

New Zealand milk producer Pete Morgan, who is speaking at today’s conference, said that all farm employees in his country must be given access to continuing development opportunities.

“Normally, one day a week is dedicated to training for each member of staff.

“This is part of the contract of employment entered into between the farmer and his employees. However, it is an arrangement willingly entered into as it helps to deliver higher productivity and efficiency levels.”