Jim Bergin at the Glanbia Ireland milk processing plant in Belview, South Kilkenny
2018 will certainly be a year that Glanbia farmers won’t forget in a hurry – Storm Ophelia, Storm Emma, the Beast from the East, a wet April followed by a dry summer – it certainly was a year that presented significant challenges.
But I think it was also a year that farmers and the Glanbia organisation responded to those challenges.
The organisation rolled out a number of very well received support initiatives for our farmers.
It is hard to believe that, after all the extremes that Mother Nature threw at us, milk supply to Glanbia Ireland last year was 5% ahead of the previous year.
This milk production came at significantly increased cost for farmers, with record feed sales and Glanbia feed mills flat out 24/7 in mid-summer.
Hopefully 2019 will be kinder from a weather perspective.
The mild weather in the early months of 2019 has allowed farmers get cows out to grass earlier than expected and has helped preserve fodder stocks.
Many farmers have told me that they intend to save extra silage this year if at all possible. A buffer of fodder available in the yard is certainly prudent.
Milk supply in the year to date has been very strong, but of course we are comparing it against 2018 when snow and storms hit production.
Here in Glanbia Ireland we are forecasting a record peak in milk production this year and we are preparing our plants for that intense period in May and June.
In south Kilkenny, a new third drier is currently being commissioned in Belview in order to handle that extra milk.
In recent months we also made the very significant announcement of a strategic partnership that proposes to build a new Continental cheese manufacturing facility in Belview.
This will be a joint venture with Royal A-ware, a leading global cheese and dairy producer in The Netherlands.
It is proposed that a total of €140 million will be invested in this best-in-class facility. The new facility is scheduled for commissioning in 2022 and will produce Continental cheeses in various formats.
Subject to planning approval being secured, the new facility will have a production capacity of 450 million litres of milk per annum.
It will be a great economic boost to Kilkenny and the surrounding counties, with approximately 80 full time jobs created at the facility. It is expected that a further 100 temporary jobs will be created during the construction phase.
We have also been in the news recently with the announcement of our Twenty20 Beef Club which is a strategic alliance with Kepak.
The Twenty20 Beef Club affords members a guaranteed market for their heifers and steers with a predictable and transparent pricing formula at time of slaughter; a production blueprint supported by safe and secure high-quality farm inputs and leading-edge technical advice.
For Kepak customers and consumers, the Twenty20 Beef Club will provide a secure and predictable supply of high-quality beef with unrivalled traceability and with the attributes of a “closed loop” supply chain.
This year will be a pilot year for the programme, with a target of 6,000 calves from Glanbia Ireland supplier dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland.
Over the coming years Glanbia Ireland and Kepak have ambitious plans to rapidly expand numbers in the programme to 50,000 per annum.
In a world-first in the beef sector, Glanbia Co-op has provided funding for the pilot phase to allow its Members of the Twenty20 Beef Club to benefit from an advanced payment of up to €770 per animal to provide cashflow during the animal’s lifetime.
This optional programme component, administered by Finance Ireland, will pay a Twenty20 Beef Club Member €35 per animal per month from months 3 to 24.
We are delighted to partner with Kepak to establish the Twenty20 Beef Club.
This programme provides our combined Club of farmer suppliers the opportunity to collectively produce beef in a model focused on ensuring both economic and environmental sustainability.
The need for all of our products to be produced in an environmentally sustainable manner is very high on our agenda.
Finally, I would urge all local homes and businesses in County Kilkenny to continue to support their local farmers by buying our high quality dairy products.
Glanbia has over 1,000 employees based in Co Kilkenny and 800 dairy farmers in the county.
In 2018 we distributed over €170 million to the local farming community.
By supporting Glanbia Ireland’s dairy farmers and choosing our brands like Avonmore for your table, we can keep growing together. Thank you for your support.