There has been some recent discussion about Milk Production Partnerships (MPPs) which are being promoted as being a good way of developing Irish Agriculture and strengthening growth in the industry. Teagasc has carried out a recent study in this area and identified the benefits of such a partnership.
Teagasc believes that the partnership – where two farmers joined together in relation to production of milk – has a number of benefits for farmers. It allows the development of larger farm enterprises (and economies of scale), increasing efficiency, sharing workloads, and introducing new skills and specialisations. For example, an older farmer might be happy to share the work load with a younger farmer who is also more up to speed with developments and has an interest in the business or commercial side of the farm. It reduces the risk to one single farmer and allows them both to share the workload and responsibilities.
Agriculture is one of the few industries in Ireland that is growing and is a strong export market. It is one of the biggest industries in Ireland and the potential for partnership will only strengthen this growth. There has always been a traditional problem in Ireland that as land is held onto fiercely by each generation, the size of farms keeps getting smaller. The potential of MPPs to allow farmers to hold onto their individual land but still create a bigger “farm” is an attractive one.
I would suggest that this development could be taken even further by introducing what is commonly known (inNew Zealand) as Share Milking Agreements. This allows people with no land to enter in farming by agreeing with a farm owner to work on the land in exchange for grazing and milking facilities. In effect, the “sharemilker” takes on a lot of the work round the farm in exchange for grazing for his/her own herd and a share from the profit on the milk quota. With the opening up of the milk quota this could become an even more attractive proposal for young farmers. It might be a case of “watch this space”.