The Irish dairy industry needs to bring in an additional 6,500 trained people into the sector by 2025, according to Teagasc’s Dr Pat Dillon.
“Of that 6,500 people, 66% will be required for regeneration at farm level and the other 33% is for new positions in the industry.”
The Head of Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Programme at Moorepark spoke at a recent grassland masterclass for over 130 Agricultural Science Association (ASA) members.
“If there is one area that we really need some industry leadership in is the people aspect,” he said.
Citing research work from Teagasc Moorepark, Dillon said the production levels of Irish dairy farms have increased in recent years.
“In 2000, about 4% of dairy farms produced 450,000L of milk annually. In 2014, up to 35% of farms in the country reached this level.”
Dillon also discussed the changes in herd size and he said that 14,500 dairy farms in the country have more than 30 cows, with the average herd size sitting at about 90 cows.
“We are moving from a family type of operation to an employed business, but we are also moving into larger herd sizes with the need for the application of better technologies.
Dillon said that dairy farming needs to be promoted as an attractive career, adding that Teagasc has a role in this.
He also said that training programmes need to be put in place to allow for the upskilling of existing farmers, as a lot of dairy farmers were not employing labour up until now.
Steps also need to be taken to ensure that a pathway for career progression is also achievable for people entering the dairy industry, he said, with the potential for those people to operate their own business into the future a requirement.
By: Sean Cummins