Loan terms are too short and putting pres­sure on farm­ers

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

at culling and re­plac­ing those stocks with bet­ter fer­til­ity ge­net­ics com­ing through,”he said.

While there are plenty ben­e­fits to split calv­ing, Mr Patton ex­plained that it in­volves four ex­tra hours of labour per cow as it is a more com­plex sys­tem.

At present the num­ber of win­ter milk farm­ers in Ire­land stands at 1,700, which is 10pc of dairy farm­ers.

This is com­pared to 3,359 pro­duc­ers regis­tered in 2001. On av­er­age farm­ers re­ceive a 7.5-8c per litre pre­mium for pro­duc­ing win­ter milk, which for most is not enough.

While Mr Patton said that it could be worth­while bring­ing in a scheme to in­crease the pro­duc­ers of win­ter milk in Ire­land, he stressed that since there’s no short­age of liq­uid milk through the win­ter that there may be no point in “rob­bing Peter to pay Paul”

“As it stands what­ever value is avail­able to fund a scheme would have to be re­turned by the mar­ket. Win­ter milk can’t be paid pre­mium un­less there’s in­creased pro­duc­tion,” he said.

He added that spring calv­ing is fine but that co-ops should start dis­cussing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of split sys­tems with farm­ers. EX­PAND your herd only if it’s right for your farm and your fam­ily, a lead­ing dairy ex­pert has said.

Ac­cord­ing to Tea­gasc’s Patrick Gow­ing, dairy farm­ers should only ex­pand if they feel it’s right for their sys­tem and not be­cause they think they have to.

“Why do we all want to ex­pand? Are we ex­pand­ing to buy a new trac­tor at the Plough­ing and if that’s what you want fair enough but to ex­pand be­cause some­one else told you to is not a good enough rea­son. We need to ex­pand for our­selves so it’ll work for our farm and our fam­i­lies go­ing for­ward.

“You don’t have to milk 300 cows if you don’t want to. If you are go­ing to ex­pand you need a busi­ness plan that is based on re­al­ity,” he said.

Grass in­fras­truc­ture

When ex­pand­ing Mr Gow­ing warned that farm­ers need to take into ac­count grass­land in­fras­truc­ture and fo­cus less on cap­i­tal costs like milk­ing par­lours as grass is the key to sus­tain­able ex­pan­sion.

He also thinks we should in­crease our loan terms to re­duce pres­sure on farm­ers.

“If you’re putting more grass in to the sys­tem there’s go­ing to be a cost im­pli­ca­tion there. If you start with the par­lour and slurry stor­age you’ll end up with no money to in­vest in the grass.

“A lot of peo­ple’s debt term is too short and they’re pay­ing it back too fast. Par­lours are go­ing to be there for 30 years why are we pay­ing for them in five? It’s an Ir­ish thing that we don’t want to be in debt and want to get out as fast as we can but it puts pres­sure on plans.”

It’s cheaper from a feed per­spec­tive to have fewer Oc­to­ber calvers than it is to al­low spring calvers to be­come lax and left on, says Tea­gasc an­a­lyst Joe Patton

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