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Minister Smith announces support for major Dairy Research Sector - Milk quota allocations to help future-proof Irish Dairy Sector

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today announced that he has approved the allocation of milk quota to a major research project aimed at the development of profitable, expanding dairy farms as the sector moves towards quota abolition.

The project is being undertaken by Teagasc's Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre in collaboration with Glanbia, the Agricultural Trust and AIB Bank. Minister Smith said that the project will "generate valuable information on low cost, efficient milk production that will be made available to all dairy farmers through Teagasc's advisory service, and will help them to adjust to the new trading environment over the coming years. The dissemination of the relevant information and data, in a timely manner, to dairy farmers is of the utmost importance."

Commenting in the course of a visit to one of the three farms involved in the project, the Minister said: "This is a very timely and strategically important initiative. It exemplifies the forward-looking approach that all of us with an interest in the long-term future of the dairy sector now need to adopt. The abolition of milk quotas in 2015 and increased exposure to global market forces is expected to lead to a significant increase in milk production in Ireland. Dairy farmers must be ready to respond. In particular they need to plan for, and manage, a profitable expansion of their businesses. I believe this project will help to equip them with the best tools for this purpose."

The Minister welcomed the comprehensive approach adopted by Teagasc in looking at three different expansion models, and he took the opportunity to place particular emphasis on the expanding family farm. "I note that, in quite properly analysing a variety of scenarios, the project will incorporate two larger farms, including a greenfield operation capable of milking 250 to 300 cows. However, there is no doubt that the expanding family farm, which envisages an expansion from 65 to 110 cows in a one-person operation over the five years of the project, will be of most interest to dairy farmers as it closely resembles the average Irish dairy farm. I therefore look forward in particular to learning of progress in relation to this element of the project."

The Minister indicated that quota allocations are expected to be of the order of 125,000 litres in the current milk quota year, rising to just under three million litres in 2014/2015 as the three farms increase production. He also pointed out that they complement to some extent the recent allocation of 200,000 litres of quota to each of 70 new entrants to dairying, in that Teagasc is developing a further research programme to assist the latter's successful transition to milk production.

Concluding, the Minister said: "Just as the allocation of milk quota to new entrants represented an investment in the future of the dairy sector, so too am I looking to the future in supporting this project. Indeed, these initiatives will come together in the next few days when, in fulfilling the training obligations that accompanied their quota allocations, the successful applicants to the New Entrants Scheme will visit this project to learn of best practice in running their dairy enterprises."

Press Release 182/09 - Photo
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, in Dunbell, Kilkenny for the launch of support for the Dairy Research Sector.  With Minister Smith is Dr. Gerry Boyle (Teagasc), Eamonn Phelan (Farmer), Mike Magan (Agricultural Trust) and John Fitzgerald (Glanbia).

Press Release 182/09 - Photo 2
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, in Dunbell, Kilkenny for the launch of support for the Dairy Research Sector.  With Minister Smith is Matt Dempsey (Irish Farmers Journal), Daniel O'Donnell (Farmer), James Walsh (Farmer), Eamonn Phelan, Patrick Butterly (AIB), Dr Gerry Boyle (Teagasc) and John Fitzgerald (Glanbia).

Date Released: 07 December 2009