American dairy farmers Matt and Megan Fry of Chestertown, Maryland traveled to Ireland for Alltech’s Global 500 where they toured various farms and took an inside look at how dairy farming in Ireland differs from in the United States. Here’s what they discovered:
- Irish dairy farmers feed their cows a diet based primarily of fresh grass, as opposed to feed silages and grains that are commonly fed in the United States. This not only because the zero-grazing requirement leads to an excess of grass on the pastures, but also because many feeds must be imported to Ireland making them less affordable than they are in the U.S.
- Until April 2015, dairy farmers in Ireland are required to abide by the European Union’s milk quota regulations which limit the amount of milk each farmer can produce. The laws have been set in place since 1984 to ensure farmers don’t overproduce to keep up with demand, and cause prices to dramatically drop. If Ireland’s country quota is ever measured to be over the limit, dairy farmers who produced more milk in that time period than the individual quota limit will be fined, costing them a loss in profits. As a result, Irish dairy farmers must be careful not to grow their businesses too quickly and diligently measure their production.
During the farm visits, Matt Fry said, “I thought the tour today was very interesting. It’s very neat looking at the different types of construction in the barns used here in Ireland, and [to learn about] a different approach to the economics of it all based around their quota system.”
Hear more observations from farmers who attended Global 500 by clicking here.