With another year of milk production coming to an end, thoughts turn to 2023 and what it could hold for dairy farmers.
Here there has been rampant farm inflation for the last 12 months with a crazy increase in primary input costs – exacerbated by recent sharp rises in interest rates.
The 25 percent reduction in emissions, the Nitrates Action Plan (NAP), and Room for Nature and Eco programs will dramatically impact the way we do business over the next year and beyond.
Recently Secretary of State Simon Coveney – along with Secretary of State Hildegarde Naughton – visited our farm for an informal IFA discussion in Oranmore on these and other issues.
Participants emphasized the critical role government policies and support will play in helping us achieve these reductions.
Two young couples starting out in the dairy industry spoke about the negative perception of the sector – despite following best practices in all aspects of their farming.
You also raised the punitive 7.5 percent stamp duty on farmland once you’re over 35.
Renewable energies were discussed, including forestry and carbon farming and trading, asking ministers that the government support these initiatives as there had been too many false dawns.
The challenges faced by human milk farming, the importance of maintaining live exports and the disappointment at the rush of the new ACRES program were addressed.
Ministers were told that many older farmers are struggling with paperwork and noted that 15,000 older western farmers have fallen through the cracks and are living in poverty with no pensions or income support.
Another issue highlighted was the difficulties faced by start-up companies trying to diversify to access support or credit.
Secretary Coveney’s presence was appreciated, as was his knowledge of the issues raised.
However, amidst all the gloom and challenges, there are some signs that give me hope for a bright future for dairy.
Global consumption continues to grow, showing that people around the world believe in the health benefits and affordable nutritional value of milk.
Strong pressure on environmental regulations, especially in New Zealand and the Netherlands, will reduce global production.
However, I also believe that it is in the interests of all Irish dairy farmers that milk remains affordable for international consumers, as that is where 85 per cent of our sales are made.
We cannot ignore the impact that inflation – estimated at 10 percent this year and projected at 7.5 percent next year – will have on consumer spending power.
Within the farm gate, I believe new and existing technology will help us reduce our reliance on purchased nitrogen and achieve greater productivity from our organic fertilizer.
Whilst there is still much work to be done in all aspects of our farming, we must always emphasize that Irish dairy farmers still have the lowest carbon footprint in the EU. We still have that green image with consumers and it’s important that we keep it.
The farming lobby needs to question some of the data used to support often negative claims from organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency; sometimes these figures are outdated.
We need real-time test results to help us identify and address the issues individually at the local level, as ASSAP addressed the challenge, rather than broad comments.
Henry and Patricia Walsh farm in Oranmore, County Galway with their son Enda and side farm owner John Moran
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/dairy/dairy-advice/henry-walsh-there-are-glimmers-of-hope-for-dairys-future-despite-all-the-negativity-42162446.html Henry Walsh: Despite all the negativity, there are glimmers of hope for the future of dairy