Planning for a future in dairying

UFU Policy Manager, James McCluggage and Dairy Chairman William Irvine launching the joint UFU-IFJ Dairy event.
UFU Policy Manager, James McCluggage and Dairy Chairman William Irvine launching the joint UFU-IFJ Dairy event.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union and the Irish Farmers’ Journal have organised a one-day conference next month which will consider the challenges that lie ahead for NI dairying farmers and key issues to ensuring future profitability.

Taking place on Thursday 12 October in the Seagoe Hotel, Portadown, the event will hear from a range of industry specialists who will highlight how the sector is changing, the policy environment around Brexit, the importance of on-farm efficiency and the factors that will drive profit.

The aim of the conference is also to open the discussion around future milk pricing, and how this might contribute to a more sustainable industry.

The event is free to attend and open to all dairy farmers and representatives from the wider industry. It starts at 10.30am, concluding with lunch at 2pm. To allow for catering, please pre-book your place by going to the events section of the UFU website: (

Speaker line up is as follows:

Ian McCluggage: Ian is head of Dairy, Pigs and Poultry Development Branch at CAFRE, a role he has held since 2000. Ian has presented at numerous conferences and events across these islands on issues linked to driving technical efficiency and profitability on dairy farms. He currently leads CAFRE’s team of dairying advisors based across NI. Ian will set the scene for the conference by looking at the changing structure of NI dairy farms, and key factors in a profitable future.

Michael Haverty: Michael is a Senior Agricultural Economist with The Andersons Centre, a leading provider of business information, interpretation and advice for the agricultural sector. In recent years, Michael has played a leading role in the delivery of research projects and conference presentations on the implications of Brexit for the agricultural sector in both the UK and Ireland. His presentation will highlight the potential implications of Brexit on the NI dairy industry.

Dr John Bailey: John is head of Agri-Environment Branch within AFBI. During his research career his work has been mostly focused on improving the efficiency of fertiliser and manure nutrients for grass-based agricultural production. More recently he has been involved in revising grassland N and P recommendations for NI, and in providing scientific advice to DAERA relating to a new Nitrates Action Programme (2015-2019). His presentation will consider the key role of nutrient and soil management in maximising production efficiency on NI dairy farms.

Dr Joe Patton: Joe is a Teagasc dairy nutrition and production systems specialist, joining the Teagasc dairy programme team in 2006. His current role includes leading up the winter milk systems project at Johnstown Castle in Co. Wexford, providing training and support for regional dairy advisory staff, and consultancy to dairy industry partners. He also works with a number of dairy discussion groups in the North East. Joe will outline the main factors that contribute to efficiency on a working dairy farm.

Dr Laurence Shalloo: Laurence is Principle Research Officer in the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Moorepark, Fermoy County Cork. His main research interests include looking at the seasonality of milk production systems and also milk pricing strategies. In the early to mid-2000’s his work was instrumental in the change towards a new milk payment system in Ireland based on milk solids rather than litres produced. His presentation will discuss how, and why this was done.

Chris Osborne: Chris has overseen Dairy Policy for the Ulster Farmers’ Union since January 2009. In that time, he has developed and maintained a strong lobby on behalf of the sector within local, national and European government officials and representatives. In parallel Chris works with Dairy UK, Dairy Council, industry bodies and other stakeholders in ensuring that NI dairy farmer interests are represented at every level. Chris will consider future options for milk pricing in NI.