The misconception that surrounds some dairy farmers are often only debunked by walking the fields, hearing the voices and seeing at first hand the challenges.
This week, we detail the Kingston farm walk where hundreds of Carbery farmers visited last week. The farm has many terrain and weather challenges which are a far cry from the plains of Cork, Tipperary or Kilkenny.
Measuring over two metres of rain annually at 850ft above sea level is a long way from 700mm to 800mm per year in the east. One size doesn’t fit all. It means you adapt your cow, your management and your production system to suit. The Irish Grassland Association visited two farms in Cavan that are normally more challenged by softer underfoot ground conditions.
All three farms have invested to allow their businesses to operate grass-based systems.
A move to restrict stocking rates to 170kg of organic nitrogen per cow on any of the three farms will undermine the investment and work completed over the last 30 years.
If the derogation was lost while some dairy farmers will have the opportunity to access more land, for others it will inevitably mean less cows, higher yields per cow and a shift to higher inputs to maintain farm output.
We should not be surprised that we might be the only EU country with a grazing derogation to allow a higher stocking rate. What Irish farmers do is unique and means the welfare of cows, the sustainability of the system and the uniqueness of the product is world-class.