Christy Condon

Ballinascarthy, Co Cork

“Derogation is our biggest challenge – we’re in the 220kg borderline area. A small bit of our farm is in 250kg, but not enough. We normally rear all our calves to beef so the beef side has to go. It’s a big blow to the farm.

“We’ve invested an awful lot on buildings for all the cattle and half of them will be idle next year. Costs never came down with the price, and that was the big thing.

Christy Condon, Ballinascarthy, Co Cork.

"We upgrade the farm someway every year, but we pulled back from that; we’ll get this year out of the way now first.”

Lawrence Sexton

Kilbrittain, Co Cork

“There’s always going to be opportunities, but we’re in a very intensive area, so it makes it a lot more difficult. You just have to keep your ear to the ground.

“We know the age profile of farming and where it is, so there’s huge opportunities for the young people coming in, but will they happen as fast as they would like? They don’t seem to, but that’s the nut that needs to be cracked with future-proofing the industry.

Lawrence Sexton, Kilbrittain, Co Cork.

“Maybe we need everyone to come together again and drive it on. We have to keep bringing new people into the sector.”

Niall Nicholson

Crosshaven, Co Cork

“We swapped from sucklers to clusters. Our land block is big, so it’s an ideal situation to change to a dairy farm.

“We swapped beef stock for dairy, so investment was mainly made in the parlour.

“I invested in a rotary parlour and we now have 220 cows. I didn’t go to the upper nitrates limit in the plan, but could have gone to 240 cows.

Niall Nicholson, Crosshaven, Co Cork.

“We have adequate slurry storage in place, but the plan was to expand existing sheds and that has to happen in the next few years.

“Uncertain times have always happened in farming and I think things go in swings and roundabouts, but food will always be wanted.”

Liam Bohane

Co Cork

“It will probably be a better year coming.

“Things are improving price-wise, but between nitrates and what is coming on the carbon, they might overlook what could be coming with milk prices.

“We are in derogation, but we are not affected by the new rules anyway.

Liam Bohane from Co Cork at Dairy Day 2023.

“I can’t see the derogation staying in this country in another two or three years unless there are big changes in Europe.

“I think it is 170kg N/ha and I don’t think there will be a system change, but I think you are going to lose a generation of farmers going into the sector, and I think you’re going to speed up more of them getting out of the sector.

“That is my concern anyway at the moment.

“I suppose if there was a way that you could farm at 250kg or 220kg, if you reach certain criteria, looking at crude protein, slurry storage, the amount of fertiliser you spread, and that kind of stuff, maybe [it could be kept].

“But I don’t see how the Department could do it or if there would be a lot of farmer buy-in.

“There are a lot of farmers probably at the stage now that it isn’t going to take a whole lot to get them to leave the sector.”

Kate Curran

Portlaw, Co Waterford

“Looking ahead to the next 10 years in dairying, I think the biggest challenge will be labour – it’s going to be a big thing.

“It’s just so hard to get people now, and I think really what we are going to be relying on is technology.

Kate Curran from Portlaw, Co Waterford, at Dairy Day 2023.

“We’re looking into putting in a new parlour in the next few years, and we’re seeing if there’s anything we could do to make it manageable for one person, because even just trying to get one person on the farm is going to be hard, nevermind having to be depending on two, especially if we want to get away ourselves.

“It’s hard to entice young people in – they just don’t want to work weekends. We try to make it as easy as possible; we try to aim to milk earlier in the evening, so you can be done.

“This cut to the derogation isn’t going to affect us that much, but it will if it goes completely. We’re milking 200 cows now and if it does go, we’d be down to around 170 cows.”