Margaret Donnelly: It divided opinion but Greenfield's demise is bad news for every farmer
Mistakes can be costly, as any farmer will know, and news that the Greenfield farm programme may be coming to an end is not good news for farmers.
The farm, which is eight years into a 15-year project, is a limited company with three shareholders: Glanbia, the Agricultural Trust (which publishes the Irish Farmers Journal) and the Phelan family, who own the land. Teagasc has provided management services and advice.
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The farm aimed to showcase best practice in the conversion of a greenfield site into a fully functional dairy farm.
It was set up five years before the abolition of milk quotas when the three shareholders weren't the only people looking to the future. Worldwide demand for milk was projected to increase by 2.5pc per annum, and the Greenfield programme would examine every aspect of meeting this demand.
The new company leased 117 hectares and invested over €1m to develop a low-cost, labour-efficient farm infrastructure for a 300-dairy cow herd.
Profit generated from the business would pay down debt and reimburse the three equity partners' investment.
The farm's business plan stated that the business model that dairy farmers select for the future must be based around absorbing price volatility and weather shocks, and be robust enough to capitalise when milk price increases.
The project was always going to hit speed bumps and be controversial. That was its role, in many ways, but clearly what is a benchmark for success in other countries did not work for all shareholders in this set-up.