SPEAKING at the IFA-organised Dairy 2020 Conference last week, IFA President John Bryan said the publication of the Dairy Sector Road Map shows there is real momentum behind the implementation of the targets set down in the Food Harvest 2020 Report.
Mr Bryan said he was pleased that the report prepared by the Dairy Expansion Activation Group contained much of the submission made by IFA last November and had identified the specific actions that need to be undertaken by each of the stakeholders within a defined timeline.
John Bryan said all stakeholders must now move in a joined-up way to implement the recommendations to ensure that the dairy sector can seize the opportunities for profitable expansion in the best interests of dairy farmers and the country.
Mr Bryan also stated that farmers need to be assured that the structural, policy, processing and marketing issues required to make profitable expansion happen are being proactively addressed by the industry.
John Bryan said the welcome optimism in the dairy sector was fueled by strong markets, positive long-term global demand forecasts, and a renewed recognition of the potential of the sector to grow Irish exports and jobs.
“Dairy farmers are ready to deliver significantly more milk after 2015 if it is profitable for them to do so. Our challenge now is to make sure there are solid structures in place, to deal with milk collection, processing, innovation into higher value products and to market the additional milk. In addition, we need Government to ensure that favourable economic, environment and taxation policy supports are in place at home and in Europe to achieve the planned growth.”
Mr Bryan reminded the large audience of co-op board members that input costs were rising and market returns presented an immediate opportunity to increase the January milk price by at least 1.5c/l.
“Today’s event is about initiating plans to ensure our industry succeeds. Delivering sustainable, strong milk prices which allow dairy farmers to secure viable incomes must be at the core of those plans.”
The IFA Dairy Committee Chairman Kevin Kiersey stressed that, in his opinion, the cost of expansion had been vastly overstated.
“A significant degree of profitable expansion can be facilitated at minimal cost on farm and in processing by optimising existing plants, and I expect to hear today a unified message from the processing and advisory service on how this is to be achieved.
“Farmers will have enough to do to finance on-farm investment. Co-ops, plcs, Enterprise Ireland and the banking sector must play the significant role in financing any processing expansion required,” he concluded.