The grass is always greener on the other side, or so the saying goes, but soon “the other side” will be reached in April 2015 when milk quota restrictions will be lifted. How will this model change the dairying world? Ireland has two key resources for this new world, quality pasture land and a reputation for quality and excellence of intermediate and finished product that has been built up over the past 5 decades.
Will we have a land of milk and honey or will we have the supplier/buyer relationship that frequently buffets the beef sector? The PLCs and Co-Ops have invested heavily to ensure that they can exploit every possible market opportunity, but the real challenge could lie in managing the supply chain to ensure adequate milk supplies for these future opportunities. Will farms continue as largely family enterprises and support the requirements that the processors will have, or will we see the industrialisation of the farming landscape to keep pace with demand?
It will be interesting to see how quickly the processors move to strong supplier development models, because, in our many years in business, this has been such a success factor in the life sciences and electronics sectors. If government and industry sector policies frame the dairy sector as a national cluster, such as we have in medical devices and software, April 2015 could be the start of something special for the Irish economy.