The milk boom that is expected after 2015 will pump an extra €750m into farming communities, according to Glanbia dairy boss Jim Bergin.
He said: "2015 presents both the country and the industry with a huge opportunity. A 50pc increase in milk output will be another 2.5bn litres of milk, which will be extra income going straight into rural communities. The expansion also presents a great chance for collaboration between processors."
Mr Bergin also revealed that the country's largest milk processor is gearing up to unveil its post-2015 plans over the coming weeks.
In March, Glanbia expects to be revealing what type of processing facilities it will run with and where it plans to locate them. But the company will be looking to farmers to stump up some of the millions required for any investment in processing capacity.
"There's no crock of gold for investment purposes in the co-ops at the moment," Mr Bergin told farmers at the Positive Farmers conference in Limerick last week. "There's less than 1c/l available for investment among the processors at the moment.
"At the same time, the feedback that I'm getting from farmers is that there is an appetite for investing in processing. But there will always be that trade-off in farmers' minds between investing inside and outside the farmgate," he added.
The co-op has virtually completed a comprehensive analysis of both its suppliers and customers and looked at several different funding options. It is also hoping to offer more forward price contracts to its suppliers in the coming weeks.
Mr Bergin told conference delegates that milk prices of 33-34c in 2011 were likely to be back by 1-3c in 2012.
"We have already seen a correction in the price of butterfat, where price has come back from €4,000/t to €3,000/t, which always happens when high prices eventually dampen demand. But there doesn't appear to be any stock building yet, which is a good sign."