ONE of the country’s best-known dairy farms is exiting the industry to make way for a new highway.
Within a few days, multi-award winning farmer Michael Gabbett of Limerick will milk his dairy herd for the last time, before they go under the auctioneer’s hammer in a dispersal sale.
The herd at Mungret is being sold to make way for the 12 km Southern Ring Road and Shannon tunnel linking Limerick and Clare. Michael explained that more than 12 acres of his farm has been acquired by the National Roads Authority under compulsory purchase order, and the motorway construction will bring to an end his five year battle with the Authority to re-route the road, and force him to end his lifelong involvement in dairy farming.
A specialist liquid milk producer, he supplied Limerick Dairies for many years before it was acquired by the Kerry Group and continued to supply milk to the Kerry owned dairy, now marketing under the Dawn label. He was the first dairy farmer in the country to win an award for consistent production of quality milk, when he won the Limerick Dairies Quality Milk Award in its inaugural year, 1979. He is a former chairman of the Limerick and Clare Liquid Milk Producers, a former board member and vice-chairman of Kerry Co-op and Kerry Group plc.
Michael and his wife, Ann (nee O’Brien) who hails from a well known Mitchelstown, Co Cork farming family, have been active members of IFA in Limerick over the years. Ann is currently chairperson of the County IFA Farm Family Committee.
Michael expressed his sadness at exiting an industry which he loved working in, but explained that the impact of the motorway on his farm and a neighbouring farm which he had rented left him with no option, because the operation going forward would not be viable.
Another high profile dairy farmer getting out of the business is one-time IFA presidential candidate John Boylan. The Castleblayney, Co Monaghan man said there is too little return for too much work, and he is selling up his 220 acre farm and milk quota of 380,000 gallons.