As this is my last article, I have decided to put my thoughts on the Irish dairy industry to you.
There are many positives and these include: properly the best dairy research centre in the world, in Moorpark; one of the best databases on dairy animals and classification of dairy stock in the world; a new health initiative with Animal Health Ireland (AHI), through which all diseases will be tackled for healthier stock, something farmers have been crying out so long for; a department of agriculture that is willing to listen to farmers and a good farm discussion group structure.
The negatives are many and varied. These include: a processing industry that will not be able to cope with the future – that is the end of quotas – due to structure. Farmer board members need to lead and change. Farm holdings are too small; we need scale into the future – the average New Zealand dairy farmer now milks 340 cows. We have too many old farmers; we need more young blood to give the industry energy and enthusiasm. We have 17,000 dairy farmers and 100,000 beef farmers, the dairy farmers make profits, and the others need to change. The ending of quotas is a challenge to us all, but I think Irish dairy farmers are ready for the challenge for the benefit of the industry and the country.
I would like to thank readers for their kind comments over the years and to thank the Farmers Weekly for the opportunity to express my views. I hope you have enjoyed reading these articles as much as I have writing them.
Farmer Focus Livestock: Jim Dwyer