THE allocation of milk quota to a major research project aimed at developing profitable, expanding dairy farms has been approved by Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith.
He made the announcement in Kilkenny as the dairy sector prepares to moves toward the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.
The project is being undertaken by Teagasc Moorepark Dairy Production Research Centre in collaboration with Glanbia, the Agricultural Trust and AIB.
Mr Smith said it 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.
Speaking during a visit to one of the three farms involved in the project, Mr Smith said this is a 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,” he said.
Mr Smith welcomed the approach adopted by Teagasc in looking at three expansion models. He placed particular emphasis on expanding the family farm.
“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.” he said.
Mr Smith indicated that quota allocations are expected to be of the order of 125,000 litres in the current milk quota year, rising to just below three million litres in 2014/2015, as the three farms increase production.
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