Milk boom will give rural Ireland a massive economic boost
'The growth in dairying here is going to do more for rural Ireland than any multinational ever has."
Tom Clinton is what's known in the sector as a "strong" farmer.
In addition to his large milking herd outside Kells in Co Meath, he has bought and sold shares in dairy farms in the US and currently owns four farms milking 2,800 cows just outside Invercargill in southern New Zealand.
Now in his late 60s, he has spent a lifetime trying to grow his dairy business within the confines of the EU's milk quota regime. Indeed, it was one reason that he decided to invest in New Zealand 14 years ago.
But the Meathman believes that the dismantling of milk quotas next April will not only increase national milk output by 50pc by 2020, but that it will double in many parts of the country that don't have strong traditions of dairying at the moment.
"Parts of north Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny, along with huge chunks of Wexford, Meath, Offaly, Laois and Kildare would all be prime areas for dairy development," he told the Irish Grassland dairy conference in Kilkenny this week.
"I've seen how massive development in dairying can happen several times during my lifetime. The first was during the first decade that Ireland was a member of the EEC. But I also saw a large part of the 1,600pc increase in milk output from New Zealand's South Island that has taken place in the last 20 years," he said.
Mr Clinton believes that the fact that turnover from dairying is double that of any of the other main farm enterprises will drive the shift. "Don't be fooled into thinking that tradition will trump the hard facts of profitability. The vast majority of farmers around my farms in New Zealand were all dedicated sheep farmers and sure that they were never for turning, but they did."