Higher profitability focus of Positive Farmers Conference

NEXT week’s annual Positive Farmers Conference is billed by organisers as the most important dairy conference in Ireland in 25 years.

“Expand profitably at low risk” is the theme, as farmers look forward to the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015.

The end of quotas presents Ireland with the potential to increase production by 400% by 2035, says Michael Murphy, long involved in this conference, which was first held in 2000.

Ireland is the best-placed country in the northern hemisphere to supply a world dairy market growing at 2.5% a year, says Murphy, who is involved in dairying in Ireland, New Zealand, Chile and the US. “The potential to milk another three million cows over the next 25 years translates to an extra 30,000 people managing and milking cows on Irish farms. That’s why I have no hesitation in saying that The Positive Farmers Conference is the most important farming event to be held in Ireland over the past 25 years.”

The conference runs over two days in Limerick, on Thursday and Friday, January 20 and 21. The cost to attend is €95 for one day, €185 for two days. Pre-booking is necessary, contact Lori Fitzgerald at 066-7139118 or 087-6680899.

“Expansion for the sake of expansion is madness,” say the conference organisers, there must be an increase in profit and farm income — and up to 25 farmers and researchers will offer advice over the two days on profitable expansion.

Adrian van Bysterveldt will outline the most profitable grass-based systems, also reporting how the 320-cow greenfield dairy farm was built from scratch in Co Kilkenny, at €1,700 a cow for all infrastructure such as parlour, roadways, etc — an estimated saving of up to 62%. Speakers include Tory and David Baker, milking 400 cows in Birr, Co Offaly, and David Wynne-Finch and Rhys Williams, who went from zero to 1,600 cows in Wales. Lawrence Shaloo of Teagasc and Michael Murphy will assess the risks of going over quota. Tadhg Buckley of AIB, will speak on finance for expansion. Dutch co-op analyst Onno van Bekkum will look at the strengths and weaknesses of co-ops throughout Europe, and loss of farmer control, in a session opened by IFA president John Bryan.

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