Approximately 300 delegates are attending today’s Teagasc National Dairy Conference in  Cavan. This follows on from the 500 plus turnout, recorded at yesterday’s equivalent event in Limerick

“Attendance levels are well up on previous years,” a Teagasc spokesman told AgriLand.

“This reflects the growing confidence for milk at farm level. Farmgate prices have continued to strengthen over recent times. Yes, volatility will be a challenge moving forward. However, there is no reason to believe that international milk markets will fall back, as part of a general trend, moving forward. In fact he very opposite is likely to be the case.”

The Teagasc representative went on to point out that Ireland’s dairy sector is on track to reach the 50 per cent growth targets set out within the Harvest 2020 report.

“The required number of heifers are in the pipeline. There is also evidence to confirm that dairy farmers are investing significantly in the infrastructure of their businesses. And, of course, the dairies are investing accordingly.

“The Irish dairy industry is changing. In the future there will be more milk produced by fewer suppliers. Improved technologies and better management practices will allow this to happen. Successful dairy farmers will need to be both expert technical management and business management. This will only happen by being well informed. Farmers need to keep up to date with the latest ideas, research findings and market outlook.

“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.

“Dairy farmers must 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.

“The two of the pillars of a resilient dairy farm system in Ireland will be the efficient and sustainable utilisation of grazed grass and a fit for purpose, high EBI animal.”

He concluded: “There is no doubt 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.”