The abolition of milk quotas is just months away and experts have said the move will most likely benefit the agri sector.
Speaking about the matter following a recent dairy conference, local Fine Gael TD, Deputy James Bannon said that local farmers would be “well prepared” for the event when it officially takes place in April 2015.
“The diary conference was a successful event that focused on managing price volatility and expansion in the post quota era,” Deputy Bannon explained. “It’s very important that Irish farmers are prepared for the abolition of milk quotas in April 2015. I have spoken to a large number of dairy farmers right across the midlands and I know they will be ready for the abolition of quotas and will be placed to take advantage of the monumental opportunity it presents.”
The government’s food strategy - Harvest 2020 - aims to grow dairy output by 50% in the five years after the abolition of milk quotas. Deputy Bannon believes that emerging markets will be key to this and the recent government trade mission to China was intended to significantly grow Ireland’s potential market for dairy products in that country.
“There is a rapidly expanding market of over 1.3 billion people in China and they are increasingly looking for high quality food and drink imports,” he added. “Irish farmers can capitalise on this and dairy farmers are currently readying themselves for the abolition of milk quotas in order to ensure that they do so successfully”.
Meanwhile, National Dairy Council chief executive Zoe Kavanagh said the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 could be worth €1.3bn and 15,000 jobs to the economy,
She also warned that the opportunity for dairy growth hinged on three “mega trends”.
Firstly, dairy will target rising demand in emerging markets such as Africa, Asia, and South America. Secondly, growth opportunities lie in new applications for dairy, notably in sports nutrition and healthy ageing, supported by technologies which enable valuable fractions of milk to be isolated, such as protein.
Consumer demands for quality and sustainability is the third trend indicated by market research.
“Economists estimate that expansion which will follow the abolishment of milk quotas in 2015 could be worth €1.3bn per year to our economy, with the potential to create 15,000 additional jobs, from farm gate to dairy processors and spread throughout the counties,” Ms Kavanagh said.
“Consumers have an interest in food quality and provenance,” Ms Kavanagh added. “Nurturing and building on the domestic trust and reputation we enjoy is vital in establishing a secure platform at home for the sustainable export-led growth that will allow the benefits of Irish dairy products to reach a wider community of consumers.”