Kevin Galvin is a dairy farmer in Lixnaw, Co Kerry. He joined ICMSA 10 years ago and has served as chairman of the local branch.
He says the role afforded him the opportunity to gain experience, better understand the issues facing farmers and examine potential solutions to the difficulties.
He is regarded locally as a ‘scientific farmer’ where modern methods are used on grazed grass to produce as much milk as possible while keeping costs low at the same time.
“We are probably more prone to weather fluctuations than other systems so in the likes of a really dry year grass growth can drop back and in wet weather when you have cows outside it can be more difficult to keep them grazing and happy,” he added. “We are managing well so far this year anyway.”
Meanwhile, he became chairman of the Kerry branch of ICMSA in 2015 having first joined the organisation around 2010.
“It’s about 10 years ago now since I first became involved with ICMSA; I went along to our local branch meeting in Abbeydorney,” continued Kevin.
“I was then proposed as secretary of the branch and took on that role; then I went from there to chairman and after one year and it was our area’s turn to take on the county chair.”
He says that at the time he was involved milk prices were to the fore in Kerry and it proved to be a very busy and active time for both him and the branch.
“At the time, my involvement was probably more than what I had anticipated because there were negotiations going on between farmers and Kerry Group regarding the leading milk price and it was the beginning of the wider debate on the issue that subsequently happened,” said Kevin.
“So, I was particularly busy that year - more so than I had expected to be. I spent a lot of time on the phone and going to meetings but it was a great experience for me and very enjoyable.”
He says that ICMSA has dairy farmers at its core.
“I know there are other farming organisations out there but because the nub of my business is dairy farming I felt that ICMSA was specific to my area of expertise,” Kevin continued.
“I know there are beef farmers in ICMSA as well and sometimes there can be a bit of conflict but because ICMSA is primarily focused on dairying there tends to be less of that conflict.” And, Munster is of course at the heart of Irish dairy farming.
But, Kevin feels that since the abolition of milk quotas more beef and tillage farmers in Leinster have made the move into dairying.
“I think the Kerry milk pool is relatively stable; if anything there are more and more suppliers dropping out of Kerry Group and the existing milk pool is therefore being maintained by the people there who are just getting bigger in scale.
“Unless farmers get involved in organisations and represent themselves nobody else is going to do it for them. I’d encourage young farmers to get involved with any farm organisation and just let their voice be heard.”