Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Five decades of Holstein Friesian excellence

Charles Gallagher IHFA; Mairead McGuinness MEP and Donal Carey IHFA at the IHFA 50 Years Celebration Gala Ball in The Heritage Killenard.
Charles Gallagher IHFA; Mairead McGuinness MEP and Donal Carey IHFA at the IHFA 50 Years Celebration Gala Ball in The Heritage Killenard.
IHFA President Peter Ging makes a presentation to Denise and John Dunleavy, daughter and son of the late Brendan Dunleavy in recognition of his work and service to the Society over 26 years IHFA 50 Years Celebration Gala Ball in The Heritage Killenard.

Martin Ryan

The majority of cows were still hand-milked and the Irish dairy industry as we know it was still in its infancy when the Irish Holstein Friesian Association was established 50 years ago.

Five decades on, the average production of solids per cow has more than doubled during the drive towards modernisation, Peter Ging president of the IHFA noted at the Association's Golden Jubilee celebrations last week.

Mr Ging set out the progress in the now multi-billion euro dairy industry since the founding of the Irish Friesian Breeders Association in 1965 which went on to become the IHFA.

A global approach to finding a solution to the volatility in farm prices and incomes in the future was called for by Ireland's Midlands-North-West MEP Mairead McGuinness, who also addressed the gathering in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co Laois on Thursday night.

Ms McGuinness saluted the founders of the IHFA for having the vision 50 years ago to found the association at a time when farmers were being instructed on RTE television 'Telefis Feirme' on "how to produce clean milk".

However, she warned that a new approach on a worldwide scale will be necessary to cope with the challenges facing agriculture in the future.

Recognising that enormous progress has been made in expanding herd size and increasing production over the last five decades, she stressed that surviving in a more volatile market environment is posing a real challenge for the future.


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"With all of the volatility that farming is now being subjected to we are going to have to look at a more global discussion about commodity prices and how we are going to manage the situation for primary producers.

"(This) is because farmers rarely see an adequate return in their income for the efforts that they are expected to put into production," she said.

Ms McGuinness added there are challenges "for those of us in the EU on the policy side with the farm leaders and other stakeholders to look at how we can manage the future of agriculture not just in Europe but as an important global industry to ensure food security".

Many of the founding figures of the association were honoured with presentations for their individual contributions over the decades.

John and Denise Dunleavy received a presentation on behalf of their father, Brendan, who recently passed away.

He had been the founding secretary and served 26 years in the role.

Others to receive presentations included Kevin Dillon, former secretary, Michael Buckley, who pioneered the establishment of the Friesian breed in Ireland, as well as being the driving inspiration to initiate milk recording of herds.

He was one of the first in the country to establish a privately owned dairy for supply of liquid milk directly to consumers in Ballinahina Dairies, Co Cork.

Dr Austin Mescal, retired chief livestock inspector with the Department of Agriculture, was honoured for his contribution to the RDS Spring Show; David Hewitt, secretary, World Holstein Friesian Federation, for his role in establishing the Irish Holstein Friesian society and Richard Whelan, Emerald Expo founder.

Indo Farming