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Ear to the Ground

Programme 11: New Zealand Special

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This is a special episode of Ear to the Ground from a country that many believe is a virtual blueprint for how Irish agriculture should develop into the future.
Despite being located on the opposite side of the planet, New Zealand is in fact very similar to Ireland in terms of its climate and landscape.
But that's where the similarities end, because while Ireland's dairy industry has stagnated over the last 30 years, New Zealand's has quadrupled in size.

Darragh McCullough visited some of the Irish who've built multi-million dollar dairy farms on the back of New Zealand's turbo-charged dairy sector.

Leonie Foster spent a large part of the 1990s advising Irish dairy farmers how to make their enterprises more profitable. After marrying Cork man Kieran Guiney, she decided to put this theory into practice and the pair headed for New Zealand to establish a dairy farm. Armed with little more than the price of a house, over the last 10 years the couple have built up a 2,500-acre enterprise milking over ,500 cows. He finds out how they did it, and explores the real cost of this system on animal welfare and the environment.

He also meets Meathman Bill Moore a former Mercedes Benz salesman who left a very high paying job here to move to New Zealand for a job that halved his pay and made him get up at 5am every morning! Now he's on the way to owning his own farm.

While in New Zealand Darragh also found out how farmers coped when the farm subsidy regime was scrapped in the 80s and how, despite a couple of tough initial years, the move has allowed New Zealand farming to prosper in the way that it has.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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