October 10, 2008


Dairy cattle earns US$3.3 billion in export revenue for Ireland


Irish cows accounted for EUR 2.3 billion (US $3.13 billion) in dairy export earnings last year, the World Holstein Friesian Conference heard yesterday, Thursday, 9 October 2008.


Some 350 delegates from 40 countries are attending the conference, which began in Killarney yesterday, Thursday, 9 October 2008. It incorporates a dairy cattle show, which opens at the Green Glens in Mill Street this afternoon and continues tomorrow, Saturday, 11 October 2008.


The role that the country's 1.1 million dairy cows play in the national economy was outlined by Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith which is being held in Ireland for the first time.


He said more than 85 percent of the annual production from the dairy product and ingredient sectors are exported annually. Dairy products and ingredients account for one quarter of our total food and drink exports.


Mr Smith said the Irish dairy industry employs more than 10,000 people in the processing and distribution sector and is supplied by 22,000 farmers.


The National Dairy Council has recently launched its strategic plan which set the road mark for the development of the home market in the period up to 2012.


He said the market for dairy products within Ireland is valued at EUR 1 billion (US $1.36 billion) and the home market is predicted to grow by 11 percent over that period, building on the excellent 17 percent growth experienced in the sector in the period 2001-2006.


The conference also heard that more milk will be produced by fewer farmers in Ireland by 2015.


Michael Dowling, head of agri strategy with AIB, said the expected changes in the EU quota system are likely to see an increase in Irish milk production of about 10 percent by 2015 and after the abolition of quotas, perhaps, a further 5 percent rise by 2020.


Dairy farmer numbers may fall from 20,000 to 12,500 by the former date, said Mr Dowling.

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