Farmers discuss end of milk quota
Up to 400 farmers have gathered at Teagasc's national dairy conference in Mullingar to hear about the future for dairy farmers after the EU abolishes the milk quota system in 2015.
For the first time in more than 30 years farmers will have no restriction how much milk they can produce and many are already gearing up for expansion.
Teagasc researcher Dr Laurence Shalloo said 100,000 additional dairy replacement heifers were born this year, compared to 2008, indicating that farmers were preparing to substantially increase their milk production.
However, Teagasc director Prof Gerry Boyle warned farmers to consider the risks when planning ahead. "There's a lot of talk, in my view, about expansion, which is often, unfortunately, nonsensical," he said.
There was a view that the only thing farmers needed to do to be successful was to increase the scale of their business. "But every farmer here knows that the only sensible and safe strategy on your farm is to do whatever it takes to make more money for yourselves and your families, but at minimum risk. That should be all that matters."
International dairy consultant Mark Voorbergen said there would be market turbulence after milk quotas ended, but ultimately prices would continue to increase because of the growing world population and increasing global demand for dairy products.
"I think the overall trend is generally upward. I think consumers around the world will have to get used to paying more for their dairy products," he said.