Extra 5,000 people milking cows by 2023 as UCD expands dairy farm - Coveney
Despite the recent challenges in dairying, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is confident that investments such as those at UCD Lyons estate show that the sector will weather the storm.

Speaking at the launch of the new dairy unit at UCD Lyons estate, Minister Coveney said that the event marked the beginning of “an exciting path of growth expansion” for the dairy industry.

“We’ll see an extra 5,000 people milking cows in the next five to seven years in Ireland,” said Coveney. “It gives me huge satisfaction to launch this facility at the end of this term of Government. It just goes to show how far we have come.”

He emphasised his hope that “future governments will continue what is now an agreed mapping out of the food industry in 10-year horizons” as completed recently with the Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 strategies.

Collaboration between research and industry

The opening of UCD’s new dairy research facility demonstrated the commitment of the Irish agricultural industry to the dairy sector and collaboration between industry, private sector, research and academia. Led by Karina Pierce and Finbarr Mulligan of UCD, the €2.3m investment received backing from seven companies.

“Without the leadership of UCD, a project of this ambition would not happen in Ireland,” said Coveney. “We need to find intelligent and sustainable ways to achieve growth and overcome barriers. We want to have the most efficient family farms on our planet and to have people buy our product because it feels good to purchase from a safe and sustainable source.’’

The new rotary milking parlour at Lyons estate can milk 40 cows in eight minutes and, according to Karina Pierce, will be a key facility for veterinary and agricultural students. Research at the Lyons estate will focus on a number of different areas, including winter milk production.

“We have been able to expand from 100 to 200 cows here at UCD coinciding with quota abolition,” said Pierce. “We are looking at grass-based dairy production, but probably a little more focused on fragmented land banks and expansion in that sort of scenario.”

Watch an interview with Karina Pierce and take a tour of the new buildings in our video below:

€500,000 in grant funding announced for milk pumps
Minister for Environment Richard Bruton said newer milk pumps could save the average farmer €1,440 in energy bills.

Some €500,000 is to be made available to dairy farmers for the installation of high-efficiency milk pumps. The grant will cover up to 40% of the total technology and installation costs.

Announcing the funding, Minister for Communication, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said the pumps could save the average farmer €1,440 in energy bills. There is also the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 1.6 tonnes annually.

The scheme will be administered through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The technologies covered under the scheme include variable speed drive (VSD) vacuum pumps and VSD milk pumps.

According to Jim Gannon, SEAI CEO, VSD vacuum pumps can reduce energy consumption by 60% resulting in savings of over 10% on total farm energy costs.

Minister Bruton said: “It is vital that every sector of our economy seek ways to reduce their carbon impact. This is a great opportunity for dairy farmers to become more efficient and save money. It is one of the many practices in a farm where new ways of working can make a significant impact.”

Farmer thoughts

Pat Walton, dairy farmer from Ballingarry Co Tipperary, has installed a new vacuum pump and said the new system was quieter and cheaper to run.

He said: “It is an investment at the start, but over four or five years it will have paid for itself and after that it is saving you a lot of money. It is worth doing for the savings.”

He encouraged other dairy farmers to think about installing a new vacuum pump.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed also encouraged farmers to avail of the scheme: “Not only does this dairy equipment make climate sense but also sound economic sense at individual farm level and I urge farmers to engage fully with the scheme.”

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How Irish farmers can harvest the benefits of energy efficiency

Watch: alternative parlour design for large herd

Watch: farmers star in new Kerrygold ads
A marketing campaign targeting 36m customers worldwide is centred on the daily life of three Irish farming families.

Ornua is launching a new global digital marketing campaign to promote the Kerrygold brand based on videos filmed on three Irish farms.

2018 Quality Milk Awards winner Darran McKenna from Co Monaghan; Marguerite and Michael Crowley from west Cork, also a Quality Milk Awards finalist farm; and Brian Cleary from Co Waterford feature along with their families and herds in the series of adverts.

The videos show lights being switched on early in the darkness as dairy farmers go about their work "364.5 days a year", as Brian Cleary puts it.

The campaign emphasises the family tradition on Irish farms, with three generations appearing – including a photograph of Michael Crowley's late father in the parlour.

Michael said that his children were very much part of the farm. "When I ask who wants to be the farmer in the future, I have three hands going up," he said.

The campaign will run in Ireland and in Kerrygold's largest export destinations in Germany, the US and the UK, but also in developing markets for the brand such as Poland, Greece and France, Ornua Foods managing director Róisín Hennerty told the Irish Farmers Journal. The target audience is 36m people.

The videos will appear on social media channels such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, but not on TV.

"We're meeting the consumers where they live and play: they are on social media when they are looking for a recipe or on their lunch break," said Hennerty.

Running the campaign on social media will also be more economical – though its budget is confidential.

PPI holds steady as further SMP stocks cleared
The Ornua PPI has remained steady this month while the European Commission has further emptied intervention stocks with all Irish powder now sold.

The Ornua Purchase Price Index (PPI) has remained almost unchanged into the first month of 2019, moving up marginally by 0.1 to 107.6.

This equivalent to a farmgate price of 30.6c/l (excl VAT and assuming 6.5c/l processing costs).

Intervention sale

Meanwhile, the European Commission has further emptied skim milk powder (SMP) intervention stores with 584t sold in the latest tender.

This leaves just half a percent of peak intervention stock in store, with the vast amount of that now in Spain. All Irish SMP intervention stocks have been cleared.

The minimum price secured at the tender also increased up from €1,585/t last month to €1,622/t which reflects a recovering global dairy protein markets.

Conor Mulvihill, director of Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) welcomed the clearance of intervention stock by the EU in an orderly manner.

He said that the almost 400,000t of stock had served as an albatross around the neck of the global dairy protein market.

However, Mulvihill warned that despite the optimism, current intervention disposal prices only equated to a milk equivalent price of under 20c/litre.

This, he said, meant the market had some way to go in terms of delivering proper returns for Irish farmers and industry.

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