Over 100 dairy farmers and industry leaders attend inaugural 'Fine-tuning Irish Dairy' conference 


Efficiency, education and the environment were key topics at a recent dairy conference in Limerick, titled Fine-tuning Irish Dairy: Family, Finances and Farm Management.

Over 150 farmers and industry leaders came together recently to discuss and debate the challenges currently facing the dairy industry at the event which was sponsored by AXA Ireland and MSD Animal Health.

Speakers at the conference highlighted the fact that Irish dairy farming has moved into a new era, utilising advanced technologies across livestock breeding, grassland management, farm finance and animal health protocols to deliver efficiencies and profitability. Apart from price volatility, Brexit and EU trade negotiations, other major challenges facing Irish milk producers were identified. These include potential production restrictions based on carbon inputs, difficulties sourcing competent labour and managing larger scale herds.

Commenting on day, Irish Farmers Monthly Editor, Matt O’Keeffe, explained: “The challenges facing Irish milk producers are significant. They include labour shortages and managing scale. This conference shows dairy farmers a range of practical, scientific and technological options to improve the management of their herds and farms, drive efficiencies and increase profitability, while improving the environmental impact of their farming activities.” 

Speakers on the day included: Zoe Kavanagh, CEO, National Dairy Council; Richard Kennedy, CEO Devenish Nutrition; Thomas Ryan, Environment and Infrastructure Executive, IFA; Conor O’Mahony, Milk Policy Division, Department of Agriculture; Cormac Farrelly, Managing Director, Agriland; John Garvey, CEO, Farm Hedge; Declan McEvoy, Head of Tax, IFAC; Fergal Morris, Managing Director, MSD Animal Health; Christy Doherty, Head of Farm, AXA Ireland; and Pat McCormack, President, ICMSA.

Speaking at the event, Christy Doherty, Head of Farm, AXA Insurance, said: “We are delighted to sponsor this event. We have completed in-depth research to understand what farmers want and we have built the AXA products to meet those needs." Fergal Morris, Managing Director, MSD Animal Health, noted: “The Irish dairy industry is recognised as one of the most sustainable dairy industries in the world. MSD Animal Health are world leaders in the production of vaccines for the prevention of diseases... vaccines can be used to reduce mortality and increase production resulting in lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At the conference, many of these challenges and opportunities for the Irish dairy industry were discussed.”