Industry to meet to examine the future of Irish milk production

Tom McCarthy, Regional Manager, AXA Insurance; Joe Deane, dairy farmer; Victor OíSullivan, dairy farmer and Christy Doherty, Head of Agriculture, AXA Insurance at the launch of the Fine-tuning Irish Dairy conference which takes place in the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Little Island, Cork on June 8, 2023. (Picture: Alison Miles / OSM PHOTO)

A radical assessment of the future of Irish milk production is the timely and critical theme of this year’s Fine-Tuning Irish Dairy Conference, which takes place on June 8 in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island, Cork.

Now in its fifth year, the conference brings together industry experts and thought leaders to discuss the major issues facing Irish dairy farming, from reduced stocking rates to nitrates restrictions and Irish dairy’s social licence to produce. The event is kindly sponsored by AXA Insurance, the National Dairy Council (NDC) and Enjoy, It’s From Europe.

Speakers at this free, full-day conference include: Billy Kelleher MEP; Karina Pierce, Professor of Dairy Production, UCD; Michael Farrelly, Executive Director at the FTMTA; TJ Flanagan, CEO, ICOS; and Denis Drennan, Deputy President, ICMSA; as well as dairy farmers Joe Deane, Victor O’Sullivan and Mike Magan.

Topics covered will include:
• The right cow for the future
• Machinery technology
• Coping with reduced stocking rates, animal welfare and nitrates restrictions
• Irish dairy’s social licence to produce
• Addressing climate change on commercial dairy farms

Dairy farmer, Joe Deane, who will be speaking at the event, commented on the importance of Government support for the industry’s efforts in tackling climate action: “There is great opportunity for dairy farmers in Ireland to run highly profitable and sustainable businesses going forward, once we are not strangled with regulation before new science and technology has the chance to be implemented to combat the challenges facing the industry, such as nitrates and climate change. It is very important that the farming organisations and the Government fight hard in Europe for the retention of our derogation at 250kg N /ha. If given more time, farmers can continue to help to improve water quality.

“Irish farmers are very adaptable and, given the opportunity, we will adapt to further improve the sustainability of our industry. We need to make our industry more attractive for young people to come into too, as this young blood will be very important in improving and driving our industry forward. Dairy farming, if simplified, can be very rewarding from both a lifestyle and financial point of view.”

Victor O’Sullivan, another dairy farmer who is speaking at the conference, also stressed the need for joined-up thinking between scientists, farmers and policy makers: “A significant challenge for the future will be maintaining political support regarding the issues of water quality and emissions. The science involved does yield favourable results for Irish dairy farmers; what will have an impact is the political will to back the science.”

Christy Doherty, Head of Agriculture at AXA Insurance, said: “AXA Farm Insurance is delighted to continue its sponsorship of the Fine-tuning Irish Dairy Conference for the fifth year. This is another step in AXA Ireland’s ambition to strengthen and support Irish farmers through expert insights and advice.”

Zoë Kavanagh, CEO at the National Dairy Council added: “The Fine-tuning Irish Dairy conference creates the ideal platform to discuss the key steps required to ensure Ireland’s role as a leading sustainable dairy producer endures. I’m delighted to explore the necessary dialogue required to strengthen trust between Irish dairy farmers as sustainable food producers and concerned citizens who are looking to be reassured about Ireland’s production system. Developing this relationship underpins Irish dairy’s social licence to operate across rural communities for the greater good.”

To register for this free event, visit Places are limited.