The abolition of quota and subsequent growth in dairy has delivered real dividends. It has allowed established herds expand and cleared a pathway for new entrants to increase farm profitability. According to Teagasc, the growth opportunity has seen output significantly increase but net margin remain static while debt, on a milk solids basis, has reduced by almost 50% on average.
A number of factors contributed to the growth strategy. Latent potential at farm level and a processing sector prepared to invest in capacity played a central role. So, too, did an evolving global dairy market where demand was growing at 1.5-2% per annum. However, it would be foolish for any future growth strategy not to recognise the extent to which a 50% increase in dairy output has dramatically changed the landscape – at farm, processing and policy level.