Predicted dairy expansion ‘greatest change in Irish agriculture since EU’

The expected dairy expansion over the next five years is probably the greatest change to affect Irish agriculture since accession to the European Union, a conference was told in Cork yesterday.

Conor Geraghty, chairman, Cattle Association of Veterinary Ireland (CAVI), said the challenges included sustainable expansion, resource efficiency and anti-microbial resistance.

“Irish vets are continuing to upskill to support farmer clients and industry at this time but all stakeholders need to collaborate to realise our goals,” he said.

Mr Geraghty was addressing the annual CAVI conference, which continues until tomorrow, with some 200 livestock veterinarians attending.

John Gilmore, who practises as a vet in Co Roscommon, said he believed that vets in Ireland had an important role to play alongside farmers and policymakers, as part of a coordination of efforts to tackle constraints to sustainable growth. 

“Vets are in a very unique position to support meat and dairy producers, by encouraging improvements in fertility, genetics, preventative medicine and disease management,” he said. Mr Gilmore said maintaining and improving animal health, and minimising disease risk, supported high-quality food standards and would lead to increased marketability of Irish produce.

“However, it also contributed to improved overall profitability and efficiencies on Irish farms because it reduces the costs of treating diseases and reduces the losses in output and production,” he said.

Martin Cormican, Professor of Bacteriology, NUI Galway, said prevention and control were undoubtedly better than cure in the context of animal disease when the huge economic damage caused by notifiable production diseases was considered.

“However, disease prevention also has a major bearing on sustainability, in terms of reducing the quantity and doses of antibiotics and medicines which we need to use to treat sick animals,” he said.

Professor Cormican called for greater co-operation between stakeholders in both the medical and veterinary sectors to find practical ways to support and incentivise the prudent use of antimicrobial agents when they were necessary, and to reduce the need for them by more effective action to prevent infection.



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