With not enough land under the expansion strategy, dairy farmers must use other, probably more expensive products, to complete the feed ration. That means the cost price, one of the strong aspects of Irish dairy farming, will rise. “Dairy farmers can produce their own grass for €0.06 per kilo dry matter. Using concentrates will make the diets much more expensive.”
Another problem is the lack of young farmers and the level of management quality. For a long time, there has been very little interest in farming in general, and dairy farming in particular. Because of that, there is a gap in available young farmers in the age from 22 to 35 years. There are programmes in place, however, to raise interest among young people to work in the dairy sector and help them to take over the family farm. But still there is fear that the general level of dairy management will not match the high ambitions in increasing amounts and yields.
Creating new markets for Irish diary
The Irish dairy industry is specialised in the production of
butter, under the name Kerry Gold. The brand is owned by
the Irish Dairy Board. With success; The Irish Dairy Board was awarded Exporter of the Year by the Irish Exporters in 2010. Ireland has 14 processors of milk with four of them being large companies, like Dairygold and Glanbia.
The extra milk the Irish plan to produce, about three million tonnes compared to the production in 2013, must be exported to the world markets. The Irish market, and the EU, is already self-sufficient. Prins sees this as one of the weak links for Ireland in the years to come. “At the Irish Dairy Board we saw an inspiring example of adding value to dairy products. With creating new products for new markets, opportunities are created. But when demand does not keep up with production, milk prices will become more volatile and farmer incomes become more insecure.” When keeping in mind that cost price probably will stay at the same level or even increase, Prins sees a challenge in elevating the ceiling that global demand for high quality milk will create.