End of quotas a great opportunity for dairy farmers, says ICOS chief

Dairy farming is entering an era of great opportunity with the end of quota restrictions in 2015, says incoming Irish Co-operative Organisation Society chief executive Seamus O’Donohoe.

Having most recently served as company secretary, Mr O’Donohoe takes up his role following the departure last week of Tom O’Callaghan, who is leaving after 12 months as CEO to pursue a career opportunity in the private sector.

Mr O’Donohoe said: “I am delighted to take on this opportunity and challenge in such a vibrant economic sector. The collapse of the former Tiger economy has brought a renewed and welcome interest in the particular strengths of the co-operative model as a means of creating enterprise and employment.

“I look forward to working closely with members, policy makers and representative organisations to further promote the development of co-operative enterprise and the agriculture and food industry in Ireland.”

The ICOS represents co-operatives and organisations in Ireland. These include the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts, whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €12bn, with about 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas.

O’Donohoe has a master’s in agricultural science and an MBA from University College Dublin’s Smurift Business School, where he was the winner of the 1993 Sir Charles Harvey Award.

He is a member of the National Economic and Social Council. He has chaired the Forum for the Co-operative Movement in Ireland and as a member of several Department of Agriculture Leader II consultative and monitoring committees. He has also served as a director of member development with the ICOS.

ICOS president Pat McLoughlin said: “Seamus O’Donohoe brings extensive knowledge and experience of the co-operative sector to his new role.

“He thoroughly understands co-operative industry issues and developments from a domestic and international perspective. He will provide strong direction and leadership for our members at this crucial time for the Irish economy and I wish him every success.”

Mr O’Donohoe takes up his role during a period of high optimism for the organisation. The group’s members are all investing in advance of the anticipated increase in milk output that are due to follow the end of EU quota restrictions in 2015.

ICOS itself has also enjoyed a number of innovations introduced during Mr O’Callaghan’s time as chief executive, notably in the areas of corporate governance, director training, and the enhancement of the ICOS website, social media interaction and communication with members.

Mr O’Callaghan, who has 16 years’ international experience in the agri-food sector with Irish and international food companies, said: “I have greatly enjoyed my time working with ICOS and I want to wish the board and the co-operative sector generally every success in the future.”

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