More than 1,400 new dairy entrants needed to hit ambitious 2020 targets
OVER 1,400 new dairy entrants will be required if there is to be any hope of the dairy sector hitting the 50pc increase outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 report.
Despite co-op surveys indicating that farmers are more than willing to boost their output by at least 50pc, detailed analysis by Teagasc shows that this outcome was skewed by the high milk prices of 2010 and 2011.
A study from Teagasc's specialist economics unit, FAPRI, that is due for publication in the coming weeks, shows that milk production on existing farms is likely to only increase by 20-30pc relative to 2008 levels.
An additional 1,422 new entrants milking an average of 100 cows each would be required to reach the 50pc mark, but only if milk prices stay reasonably high.
This assessment is totally at odds with the current expectations for the sector. Milk processors, particularly in the southern half of the country, are predicting at least a 50pc growth in milk supplies.
Thia Hennessy of FAPRI said milk prices between now and 2020 will have a huge impact on the actual increase in output.
Many of the farm surveys conducted by dairy processors were carried out during 2011 when milk prices were close to 34c/l.
Long-term projections for milk price at the moment tend to be closer to 29c/l.