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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Doing the basics right to be conference’s focus

Controlling the controllables, creating certainty and attracting and retaining people are among the topics that will be explored at this year’s Irish Grassland Association Dairy Conference.

The 2022 event – which Yara is sponsoring – will take place on Wednesday, July 20th, 2022, in the Talbot Hotel, Clonmel.

The dairy conference – which carries the theme of doing the basics right to fulfil potential – will take place in the Talbot Hotel, Clonmel on Wednesday, July 20th, 2022.

Controlling the controllables

According to organisers, the first session will look at tools that dairy farmers can use to manage the risks and opportunities in their businesses.

In a statement, they said: “There is a lot in the world now that is out of our control.”

“However, there are key elements within our own farm gates that we can control as farmers.”

“This session will look at what we can do in our businesses to reduce these uncertainties.”
Prof Brendan Horan will outline the ways farms can maximise Nitrogen use efficiency.

This is “particularly important” considering record fertiliser prices and the need to reduce the quantity of chemical Nitrogen applied and to improve water quality.

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Meanwhile, Mary Kinston will outline the financial reality on farms where record milk prices have been accompanied by record input prices.

She will use data from her discussion groups to give a current state of play on farms mid-way through 2022.

Finally, Bobby Hovenden, a dairy farmer from Co. Laois, will outline the decisions he made on his farm to create a more sustainable business from both farm profitability and lifestyle perspectives.

Bobby reduced cow numbers to take the pressure off his farming operation.

Creating certainty

In the second session, Prof Laurence Shalloo, Head of Animal and Grassland Research in Teagasc, will outline current and future environmental challenges facing the industry in the years ahead.

The spokesperson said: “Significant change and continued technology adoption by farmers will be required to overcome these challenges. Further research is also

Finally, Laurence will outline his vision for the Irish dairy

industry and his thoughts on the new areas of research in the coming years.

Attracting and retaining talented people

The last session will cover how the Covid pandemic has changed the way many people view their work-life balance.

The way employers recruit and retain staff will need to change to meet employees’ expectations, organisers say.

“As a consequence, many dairy farmers have faced significant difficulty with staffing over the past 18 months.”

“Mark Cassidy and TJ Kelly have large dairy farms and employ both full and part-time labour.”

“Both farms have expanded successfully by creating a positive working environment for their employees.”

Furthermore, Dr Nollaig Heffernan will outline the science behind what successful businesses do to attract and retain the most talented people.

“The people who work in a dairy business are its most valuable asset.”

“Maximising the efficiency of the people working in a dairy business will lead to better outcomes for both the staff and the business,” the spokesperson concluded.

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