By Erika Sassone & Darren McDonagh
Dairy farmers across Co Galway have dramatically increased their herds in the last five years, new figures reveal.
The number of dairy cows in the county has increased by 27 per cent between 2015 and 2020, according to official figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In 2015, there were 31,200 dairy cows in the county. This figure increased to 39,700 by the end of 2020.
The rise is part of a national trend that has seen an overall rise in dairy farming nationwide, however Galway’s increase is well above the national average.
Dairy farmers have also benefited from strong milk prices, boosting their bottom line at a time when returns from other sectors including beef have been mixed.
Pat Murphy, the Connacht Regional Chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said that the rise is as a result of the end of dairy quotas in 2015, and investment by dairy farmers across the county in their enterprise.
“During the quota years, many of the smaller guys just got out rather than putting in the extra costs to comply with the increase in standards,” he said.
The quotas were introduced in 1984 due to an oversupply of milk in the European market.
“Since quotas were abol- ished, people have been given the opportunity to expand their numbers in a way that they wer- en’t able to do before,” he said.
Mr Murphy also said that he didn’t believe Brexit would have a significant effect on the industry in Galway.
“Most of our milk goes into powders which are sold on the international market. Milk that goes into cartons serves the local market.
“Cheese tends to be the one that was most hit by Brexit, not butter or powder because they tend to shelve on the interna- tional market,” he added.
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