Ageing Irish dairy industry needs 6,000 new entrants

An industry report has alerted Ireland’s dairy sector to the need for new blood in dairy farming between now and 2026.

It states around 4,000 new farmers are expected to replace outgoing farmers and an additional 2,000 new employment opportunities will be created over the next nine years.

This is according to researchers and consultants at Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), who conducted The People in Dairy Project Report following a major change in the size of Ireland’s dairy sector.

Irish dairying in numbers

  • Average dairy farmer is 58 years old
  • Average herd size stood at 76 cows in 2016
  • Herd size was at 54 in 2005
  • Herds of 100 more represent 47% of farms, was 13% in 2005
  • 4,000 farmers needed in next nine years
  • 2,000 new employment opportunities forecast for next nine years

See also: Profit from dairy: Three key ingredients for a milk contract

Back in 2014 Ireland’s Department of Agriculture finalised Food Harvest 2020.

It is an ambitious agricultural growth plan that targeted increasing milk production 50%, lifting export values 42% and improving the added value sector by €3bn by 2020.  

Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said dairying can be an enjoyable and financially rewarding business providing a good work-life balance.

He said: “This can be achieved by having labour-efficient set-ups that make the day to day workload easier.

“There are opportunities for people to follow an attractive career in dairy farming and the opportunity for family farms to expand to improve their viability in the future.”

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