Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dairy farmers mark new dawn in agriculture with ‘end of milk quota’ parties

'The recession may be finished but its consequences are not'
'The recession may be finished but its consequences are not'

Mark O’Regan

Dairy farmers partied like it was the early 1980s last night to celebrate new rules allowing them to produce as much “white gold” as they like.

For over 30 years farmers had limits on the amount of milk they could sell.

But new rules mean farmers will no longer be subject to quotas in production, and will be able to produce as much milk as they find possible.

To mark the historic occasion, some producers organised “end-of-quota” parties, ringing in the regime change with ‘ceremonial milkings’.

Farmers in the small County Tipperary village of Ninemilehouse held one such hooley to mark the historic event.

A milking machine was also on hand for the celebration.

“I think this is the biggest event since we got rid of the Black and Tans,” enthused party organiser Walter Power.

“It is going to bring about massive change in rural areas.”

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Mr Power told the Irish Independent the new dawn in milk production was a “golden opportunity” for rural Ireland.

“Well managed dairy herds will go well. But like anything, if you don’t manage it well, farmers will suffer the consequences.”

There was the symbolic milking of a cow under the quota regime for the last time before midnight by Mr

Power’s 80-year-old father, Paddy.

After midnight, four 12-year-olds, under supervision, took over the milking.

Dairy farmers are hoping they will be able to develop the industry with potential to create jobs.

IFA president Eddie Downey, said the end of milk quota restrictions was obviously good for the sector – but warned farmers also needed to exercise caution.

“Based on the experience in other parts of the world, Irish producers need to be particularly careful on the level of borrowing and additional business costs they take on as they expand.

“The IFA is acutely conscious of the many issues outside the farm gate that must be addressed to help the sector meet its full potential.”

Irish Independent

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