Most dairy farmers are inwardly celebrating the fact that milk quotas will be abolished at the end of the month but a group of Tipperary farmers are taking it a step further by throwing a party to mark the occasion.Musician John Bermingham, who gave up dairy farming because of the restriction of quotas, has been commissioned to write a song for the event and a milking machine will be at the party venue to see the last cow being milked just before midnight on March 31st.
Glanbia supplier Walter Power from Ninemilehouse says he hopes other farmers will mark the occasion in a similar way. “I think this is the biggest event since we got rid of the Black and Tans,” he says. “It is going to bring about massive changes in rural areas and we should mark it.” From April 1st, farmers will be free to produce as much milk as they wish and it is expected that milk supply will increase by 50 per cent by 2020.
The “goodbye to quotas” party will include the symbolic milking of a cow under the quota regime for the last time by Mr Power’s father Paddy (80), just before midnight. After midnight, four 12-year-olds take over the milking and could well be the first people in Europe to milk a cow in the post-quota era.
Mr Bermingham said his song was at the embryonic stage and he was writing it with the guitar he bought when he sold his cows. “I came back home to farm in 1980 when my father got sick,” he said.
“Then milk quotas came in and really hampered progress of becoming a farmer. I spent 10 years trying my best but in the end I sold my cows. I decided that whatever money my best cow made on the day of the auction would be spent on a guitar. That’s what I did and my best cow became my guitar.”
Tourism businessHe now runs Crocanoir, a tourism business and music venue on the farm in the foothills of Slievenamon.
Up to 200 people are expected to attend the party at the community hall in Grangemockler and funds raised will go to the hospice in Carrick-in-Suir.
There is a good chance the cows of south Tipperary will be milked a little later than usual on the morning of April 1st.