Gathering of dairy and beef producers on a global scale

The Gathering initiative has convinced global agricultural and food company Alltech to relocate its well-attended annual Global 500 event for the first time from Lexington, Kentucky, to Dublin.

Headed up by Irishman Dr Pearse Lyons, Alltech has its European headquarters in Dunboyne, Co Meath, and the company’s leaders see Ireland as an ideal location for the world’s most progressive dairy and beef producers to network with peers at their Global 500, and explore the most pressing issues facing both industries.

In Europe for the first time, the event is in the RDS in Dublin on Oct 1-3.

It will address how farmers and food producers worldwide can stay ahead of the curve, under headings of efficiency, profitability, and sustainability.

Topics such as forages and maximising your return from the land; the war against protein prices; mineral management; mycotoxin management; innovations; investment for the future, and the global landscape will also be addressed.

Kevin Tuck, MD of Alltech’s European HQ, says demand for dairy and beef products is growing worldwide. “The potential profitability has never been greater, which is why we must make production leaner in order for it to endure.”

Q. Are answers to the big Global 500 questions very different for big countries such as the US and a relatively small player in world agriculture, like Ireland?

A. This year’s Global 500 is designed to attract the biggest possible spread of farm types from around the globe, representing over 2m cattle in total. The spread will be from very large farms in North America and Asia, right down to smaller farms in Northern Europe, including Ireland. The event will address issues from milk production to animal health and fertility, right down to marketing enterprises.

It has been our experience that the answers to the issues raised have a common thread, regardless of region.

Issues such as fertility and animal health have a common grounding, regardless of global positioning, and the strategies for improvement are very common across the globe. Major benefits to attendees will be hearing potential solutions communicated in an applied manner, and the opportunity to discuss and share ideas with open-minded fellow attendees farming in different circumstances.

Q. Global 500 will investigate “Who will produce and buy the milk and beef?” Is China the big target for exporters?

A. The opening session will address feeding the ever-growing world population in terms of dairy and beef production. Much of the recent talk has centred on emerging markets in China and India. Ireland is not the only nation with an eye on this marketplace. What exactly are these markets looking for and how can we supply it? It is not only China, but all of Asia which represents a big opportunity, but these countries have great ambitions to produce themselves, locally. The conference will have a large Chinese delegation eager to hear what the world wishes to present to them, and to share with us their ideas on what they truly desire — the qualities that become the unique selling points guaranteeing that they will purchase from one country or company over another.

Of particular interest will be the unique situation in Europe after milk quotas end — including the growth plans for Ireland’s largest milk processor, Glanbia, and their new processing facilities at Bellview, Waterford.

Q. What does this event offer farmers?

A. Across the world, farmers are taking more control over their operations and building for the future. To do this, they are on a charge for information, which is reflected in the Global 500 agenda.

In a recent European Farmers’ Association survey, succession topped the list of issues for dairy farmers.

Alltech has discovered at previous Global 500s which issues are crying out for better communication and information, so farmers and owners are sufficiently knowledgeable to make tough decisions.

Q. You will visit Irish farms which are small by world standards. Does sustainable have to be small?

A. Sustainability is sometimes greatly misunderstood and perceived to have resonance only with large dairy or beef enterprises. However, enhancing sustainability is primarily driven by enhancing efficiency and productivity. From the smallest farm in Ireland to the largest operations in California, the issue is the same. The industry seriously needs to reduce its carbon footprint and improve its wider sustainability, and the single most significant way is by enhancing animal performance, and the efficiency of converting their feed into milk or beef.

The enhanced sustainability message is one of improved productivity. The biggest beneficiary from an improved image of sustainability is the dairy and beef farmer, through his ability to retain more profit margin per kilo of beef or litre of milk.

This is an area where, unless industry and producers take control, there could be controversial government implementation of restrictions.

Alltech will demonstrate value in terms of reduced carbon footprint, and we will hear of the Bord Bia initiative to make enhanced sustainability a unique selling point for Irish goods.

Improving efficiency and profitability and, at the same time, sustainability, is the foundation of Alltech’s EPS programme.

Q. Are there Global 500 spaces left? How does one register to attend?

A. There are spaces left, but the early-bird rate of €175 ends on Sept 24 and places are filling up fast. Register now on the website.

Q. How many visitors do you aim to bring to share in The Gathering Ireland 2013?

A. We aim to bring 700 farmers to Global 500 alone. In terms of Alltech’s total contribution, including all our events from the Innovation Competition and International Craft Brewing and Distilling Convention, to Global 500 and President’s Club, we hope to bring in over 3,000 people who otherwise wouldn’t have been here (because we typically host these events in the US). We are very proud to have been able to commit to such an extent to the Gathering Ireland 2013.

Q. Global 500 is ideal for networking. Who can Irish delegates meet there?

A. They will meet open-minded people with similar goals. Typical Global 500 attendees spend much time exchanging ideas and advice and discussing the unique solutions they have found to common dairy and beef issues. In addition, Global 500 will be a unique cultural experience, not just a simple farmers’ conference, and it is up to us in Ireland to ensure that delegates leave with a fantastic impression of a serious and professional dairy and beef industry ready for the post-quota dairy market.

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