With two out of five IFA regional dairy seminars on the theme of “A Framework for Dairy Growth” now run a clearer picture of farmers’ main concerns and expectations is emerging, says IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary.
The IFA ran one seminar in Cork last week, with the participation of Dairygold’s CEO Jim Woulfe, and another one last Monday in Carrick-on-Shannon with Aurivo’s CEO Aaron Forde. Banks and Teagasc were represented at each seminars, and senior Farmers Journal representatives MC’d very lively, probing discussions.
Sean O’Leary said, “There is a real concern about the impact of volatile incomes, and farmers who have attended the seminars have questioned their co-op and the bank speakers very closely on these topics. They have asked about milk price commitments, and the intentions of every co-op to make fixed price contracts available to them. Some also queried whether such contracts are actually costing farmers as against taking the highs with the lows as they come,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Farmers also challenged the bank representatives on their willingness to lend, in light of the relatively low indebtedness of Irish farms, and on the need for routine availability of flexible repayment terms and conditions without costly renegotiations,” he added
“Farmers asked about co-ops’ intentions on milk prices, about increased efficiencies within the processing industry, including consolidation and mergers. In Cork, the point was made that within the co-op model, community, while remaining very important, should not come at the cost of commerce, and the ‘name over the door’ should matter less than the long term business interest of farmers,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Finally, strong discussions arose about the lack of availability of one-to-one advice from Teagasc, especially due to the fact that dairy advisor numbers have halved to 200 in the last 7 years. Farmers stressed that, in the context of the growth planned for the dairy sector, it was crucial that Teagasc, as an independent, quality research, education and advisory service, be properly resourced to provide farmers with the services they will need to deliver on Food Harvest 2020 targets,” he concluded.
A further ‘A Framework for Dairy Growth’ Seminar takes place tonight at the Hotel Kilkenny, in Kilkenny City. It will be opened by IFA President Eddie Downey and addressed by GIIL CEO Jim Bergin among others.
Further seminars take place in:
Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick – 2nd April
Kilmore Hotel, Cavan on 8th April
All seminars start at 8pm, and all are welcome to attend – registration is not necessary.