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Coveney Highlights Importance of Discussion Groups

- Dairy Efficiency Programme Complements Dairygold/Teagasc Joint Initiative -

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today emphasised the key role to be played by discussion groups in the attainment of the Food Harvest 2020 target of a 50% increase in milk production over the next decade. Speaking at the launch of the Dairygold/Teagasc Joint Development Programme 2011-2013, the Minister referred to the critical role that the dairy sector, and the agriculture sector as a whole, will play in the national economic recovery.  In order to do so, the most up to date technology must be effectively and sustainably adopted, and participation by dairy farmers in discussion groups is one of the most effective means to achieve this:

"We have to apply smart, green principles in addressing the massive challenges, but also in exploiting the great opportunities, that currently characterise the situation in the dairy sector. I think Teagasc and Dairygold are showing the way with this excellent initiative, which combines a focus on market demands with the application of the technological tools necessary to maximise production efficiency and an assessment of the carbon footprint being created by each of the participating monitor farms."

The Minister noted the complementarity of the Dairygold/Teagasc Joint Programme and the Department's Dairy Efficiency Programme, which is now in its second year. All of the participants in the joint initiative are also active in the Dairy Efficiency Programme, which is designed to encourage participation in discussion groups and also features the dissemination of technological information from demonstration and monitor farms:

"The Dairy Efficiency Programme makes an important contribution to the effort to deal with price volatility by maximising production efficiency. Payments in respect of the first year of the programme commenced last week to the more than 6,000 successful discussion group participants who satisfied all of the requirements in 2010, each of whom will receive just under €1,000".

The Minister pointed out that discussion group numbers are now well on the way towards the 9,000 target set out in Food Harvest 2020. For those still to be convinced, recent Teagasc research has shown that participation can improve profitability by between 1 and 2 cent per litre. Initiatives such as the one by Dairygold and Teagasc are therefore of great importance, and the Minister concluded by wishing them, and all of the participants, well in their endeavours.

Date Released: 09 May 2011