Cawley: Farmers must carry expansion costs
Farmers will be the ones picking up the tab for the expansion of the Irish dairy sector, claimed Teagasc chairman Noel Cawley at last week's National Dairy Conference.
More than 1,000 upbeat dairy farmers, gearing up for expansion after 30 years of operating within EU-imposed quotas, were given the stark reality at the conferences held over two days in Charleville and Mullingar.
Mr Cawley said he firmly believed the cost of flattening the supply curve would be prohibitive compared to savings secured by better use of existing processing facilities.
"It's clear that the competitive advantage of Irish dairying lies in maintaining a spring calving herd," he said.
The cost of increasing national output by 50pc, as outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 report, without altering the existing seasonal supply pattern will cost more than €850m, according to estimates by the Irish Dairy Board (IDB).
"Realistically, the Irish farmer is going to have to pay for some, if not all of the expansion required," said Mr Cawley.
"Where's the money going to come from otherwise? Not the Government, with the way things are going. The EU might do something for us but most of the money is going to come from farmers' profits from the extra milk they produce.
When questioned as to whether the processors should also contribute, the former IDB boss replied: "They're one and the same thing. What are the co-ops but extensions of the farm?"