THE annual dinner-dance of West Cork IFA, which took place in the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, had the retiring CEO of Carbery Milk Products, Dan MacSweeney, as special guest speaker.
Welcoming the large attendance, West Cork IFA chairman Corney Buckley referred to the good relationship which had existed between the IFA and the Carbery CEO during his 25 years at the helm, during which time he had led the business to expand and diversify across four continents, supplying almost 40 international markets.
In his address, Mr MacSweeney thanked the IFA for the close ties which had endured between Carbery and West Cork farmers, who he described as being among the best in the world. He said the fact that global demand for dairy products is growing by one and a half per cent per year is a positive indicator for the dairy industry.
Another encouraging factor is the more up-to-date health research which has shown dairy products in a much more favourable light than was considered to be the case some years ago. But, he also warned that milk price volatility is now part and parcel of the dairy business. While 2017 had been a good year for milk price, it looks likely that prices have now reached the top of the present cycle.
He said that a thriving dairy industry is important for the whole economy of the area: ‘It is vital for the towns and villages and not just for West Cork dairy farmers.’
While Brexit is undoubtedly a major challenge, he is hopeful that, with a good product mix and diversification into other markets, the worst effects of it could be minimised. Mr MacSweeney said he was happy to be leaving Carbery in good shape with a staff of almost 600 between Ballineen, the UK, the US, South America and South East Asia. The occasion also saw the awarding of honorary life membership of IFA to John Joe O’Donovan of Drimoleague. John Joe has been a stalwart of the Association since the early days of the NFA, which later evolved into the IFA.
He was treasurer of the old West Cork region and he put a huge effort into building up the membership base in those years. He provided great support to the Farmers’ Rights March from Bantry to Dublin in 1966 by feeding the participants as well as helping out on their farms at home during their absence.
Having enjoyed a superb meal, the many patrons danced into the small hours to the music of Martin Kearney and Art Supple.