Farmers told to be cautious when expanding after end of milk quotas

Teagasc advises dairy farmers to ensure they have a proper plan and budget in place

IFA president Eddie Downey: said dairy farmers needed support at local and European level to deal with volatility in milk prices. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

IFA president Eddie Downey: said dairy farmers needed support at local and European level to deal with volatility in milk prices. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

From April 1st farmers will be free to produce as much milk as they wish for the first time in 30 years.

Some 250 farmers attended an IFA conference yesterday to hear about the implications They were told by Teagasc senior research officer Laurence Shalloo that expansion was not for everyone. He said there should be no expansion without a budget and a plan, and many farmers did not have a plan.

“As an industry I think you have to move away from groupthink where we all do the same thing. The farm plan should be central to the expansion process, but for a large group of you there is no plan, only increasing numbers because we can increase numbers.”

Volatility

Eddie Downey

Ulster Bank agricultural manager Anne-Marie Butler said some farmers, particularly new entrants, were obsessed with new facilities such as milking parlours with “bells and whistles” rather than looking at profitability.

Mr Shalloo said young, trained, farm business managers would be the cornerstone in dairy expansion but there was not a clear career progression model, particularly for someone who did not have a dairy background.

“We want some model that allows a person in secondary school to actually decide they want to become a dairy farmer because they see they can get more money, have a better lifestyle and get higher returns than, for example, accountancy.”

The conference also heard that farm deaths and injuries might increase as dairy farms got bigger.