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Smith Urges Dairy Farmers to Reap Discussion Group Dividend

- Second Year of Dairy Efficiency Programme Getting Under Way -

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today called on dairy farmers who have yet to be convinced of the value of discussion groups to simply get involved and see the benefits for themselves. Speaking at the launch of the second year of the Dairy Efficiency Programme, the Minister pointed to the findings of a recent Teagasc study on the economic benefit of participating in a discussion group.

"Teagasc research has shown that membership of a discussion group has a direct and positive impact on dairy farm profitability, to the tune of between 1 and 2 cent per litre. This means that a milk producer with a quota of 250,000 litres can realise a benefit of between €2,500 and €5,000 from participating in a discussion group."

The Minister referred to the important role to be played by discussion groups in achieving greater on-farm efficiency and in achieving the Food Harvest 2020 target of a 50% increase in milk production by the end of the decade. The adoption of best practice in the management of their enterprises will also help dairy farmers to deal with milk price fluctuations, and to bring about improvements in motivation and in lifestyle through a shared learning experience.

"The focus for all dairy farmers at a time of great opportunity but also of increasing price volatility must be to reduce costs and to manage their enterprises in a business-like fashion. Discussion group membership helps farmers to do this, not only by encouraging them to look at the way they do things but also by helping them to learn from the experience of other farmers." 

Commenting on the first year of the Dairy Efficiency Programme, the Minister expressed his delight that discussion group membership had more than doubled in the last twelve months. It was clear that increasing numbers of dairy farmers were realising the potential benefits of being involved in a discussion group, and the feedback he had received from around the country had only served to reinforce that message.

"It is evident that discussion groups are an essential tool in helping the dairy sector to realise its potential over the next ten years and beyond. Nearly 7,000 dairy farmers have now taken that message on board and are seeing the benefits in real and practical terms on their farms and in their daily lives. I can only urge those who have not already done so to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Dairy Efficiency Programme and get involved."

Concluding, the Minister said that full details of the 2011 Dairy Efficiency Programme will be available shortly from Co-ops and on the Department's website (www.agriculture.gov.ie) under "Dairy Farming/Dairy Efficiency Programme".

Date Released: 20 December 2010