Then, detection of brucellosis in many of the country’s herds led to a spate of depopulations as part of the eradication effort, and disastrously reduced the milk supply of Kerry Co-op by about 20%.
The silver lining to this dark cloud was the management and directors’ decision that if the firm was to grow, it had to reduce its reliance on commodity dairy products. Out of that decision was born Ireland’s most successful food company, Kerry Group - which has gone from modest beginnings to become a leading global player with annualised sales of more than €4 billion.
Now, national progress in brucellosis eradication has been mirrored in the county. Last year in Kerry, there were 61 laboratory positive animals and 17 new herd restrictions - slightly up on 2004, but still well below the high levels of 1998, with up to 71 restricted herds and 956 laboratory positive animals.