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15th December, 2017

Dairy farming in Switzerland/model for fragmented farms in rural Ireland

I spent the past week in Switzerland, visiting farms and milk processing units. The primary dairy breed is the Brown Swiss. 80% of dairy herds range in size between 10 to 50 cows. Milk price is currently 47 cents a litre. Government subsidies account for 50% of farm income. This form of supports enabled farms to survive successfully on rural disadvantaged farm holdings. Rural depopulation is avoided in these circumstances.

A visit to a milk processing unit called ‘Zuger’, which processes milk ranging from conventional, organic and buffalo milk to a range of 500 products. This company also gets a government subsidy of 12 cents a litre, which it passes back to dairy farmers. This company won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award in 2010. For the level of innovation and export led niche market of added value products. Ireland needs to learn from this model. In my opinion dairy farmers along the Dingle Pennisula, in Co. Kerry, will not be with us post 2015. As socioeconomic factors, will prevent the level of expansion required and survive in a post quota regime.