A time of challenges and opportunities
Like all new dawns, there are now opportunities and challenges for Irish agriculture as a result of an open market for milk after 31 years of restrictions imposed by the milk quota system, which was introduced on April 2, 1984.
The immediate challenge for the dairy sector is to cope with the so-called 'river of milk' that has built up in recent months as farmers and processors stored millions of litres of milk to avoid super levy payments before the advent last night of open market.
But it is the long-term challenges that are far more important and will tax farmers, milk processors and the Irish Dairy Board, now known as Ornua. With unlimited production across the EU, there is the immediate danger of a fall in the price of milk. But with milk products in great demand in emerging markets, there are also great opportunities in the vast markets of China and India.