Farm Ireland

Saturday 22 October 2016

'We have to reinforce the positive messages about dairy'

My Week: Teddy Cashman, Whitecross, Cork - Dairy farmer and vice-chairman of the National Dairy Council

Ken Whelan

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

Teddy Cashman was relatively free at the start of last week - this gave him a chance to do some farming work including housing the dairy cows and drying off first calved heifers on his 250ac farm in Whitecross just outside Cork city.

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He has just increased his Holstein-Friesian herd from 130 to 180 cows as part of his post-quota expansion - he is optimistic about the Irish dairy industry now that the production shackles have been removed by the mandarins in Brussels.

In advance of the abolition of quotas, he had improved the housing and dairy facilities at the farm and says he is confident about the future of the sector.

He supplies liquid milk to Dairygold but reckons the price is 5c/l shy of what he would describe as a "comfortable" margin for his winter product (3.6pc fat and 3.3pc proteins).

He says something will have to be done by the powers to be about fixing a 'comfortable' price for liquid milk producers, but he accepts that the sector will have to endure the ups and downs of what will be a volatile market for a few more months at least.

However, Teddy has a busy schedule as he is National Dairy Council's vice chairman, a role that sees him highlighting their campaigns emphasising the health and nutritional benefits of dairy for both young and old.

Likewise, he feels the NDC's joint ventures with agencies such as Safe Food Ireland, the Irish Dairy Board, Bord Bia and Teagasc are important in promoting Ireland as the 'green' island.

"This is a good message. And we have to reinforce this dairy message. We have to believe in the health and nutritional value of Irish milk especially if we intend to develop markets for Irish milk," he says.

The NDC is currently arranging a springtime event in Dublin on this subject for transition year students nationwide. To date, the event - which had an initial target of 2,000 participants - has had applications in excess of twice that number.

Teddy, who took over running the farm from his father Donal 16 years ago, is married to Joan, whom he met at a Macra function.

The couple have three daughters - Emma (22), Anna (20) and Sadie (17) - who are completing or have broken the back of their educations.

Emma is a microbiologist, Anna is at UCC doing Commerce and Sadie is finishing second level and is leaning towards the sciences.

So did you have any family 'holliers' this year Teddy?

"No. Two years ago myself and Joan toured Britain and we are thinking of taking a holiday in the Canaries in the New Year," he says with the conviction of a man who really doesn't know.

Just as our conversation is ending and Teddy is expecting to get back to housing the animals in Whitecross, news of another IFA emergency meeting is broken.

For Teddy, who is the association's liquid milk chairman, another day long day's journey into night of emergency discussions beckons in Bluebell.

His family has been steeped in the IFA for over 60 years and he expects that active history to continue.

All he can say about the finances of the IFA at the moment is what he actually knows.

"I get an allowance of €100 for going to Dublin for council meetings, the civil service mileage allowance and €50 subsistence allowance for a day long meeting," he explains.

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