Ireland's expansion target for the dairy herd could be over four million cows if all land was properly developed and managed, New Zealand dairy expert Adrian van Bysterveldt said.
The Teagasc dairy specialist told last week's Positive Farmers' Conference in Limerick that with the removal of milk quotas, farmers had the power to remove the remaining barriers for achieving such a radical change in the agricultural scene.
"Small changes in the distribution and size of payments and subsidies that may be part of future CAP reforms will accelerate the rate of land use change, but the underlying impetus for land use change is largely in the hands of profitable farmers," he said.
Mr van Bysterveldt outlined changes required in the dairy industry which could speed up the rate of dairy expansion.
These included a review and simplification of Department of Agriculture rules, reporting and auditing as they affect farmers and impact on expansion, as well as rationalisation of current tax laws and how they impact on expanding businesses.
He called for the removal of subsidies and financial incentives that prop up uneconomic farm and farming systems ,and the development of a 20-year strategic plan to drive the direction and funding of research and extension activities.
The Kiwi said rural bankers with a better understanding of profitability in dairy farming businesses and the authority to provide funds to properly focused operations were desperately needed.
Mr van Bysterveldt called for a separation of advisory services into a stand-alone consultancy business and the development of education programmes that would produce people capable of managing larger, more complex dairy farming units.