The dairy sector within the EU is currently confronted with many challenges as a consequence of political, economic and societal demands. These include price fluctuations, increasing competition in terms of farm inputs and products in the EU and on world markets, and increasing public demands for food product quality and safety, optimal animal welfare and biodiversity. The end of the milk quota system in 2015 represents an additional major change for the European dairy sector. Many countries are already responding to this change by exploring the possibilities and constraints of scaling up and intensification. The 18th Symposium of the European Grassland Federation therefore focuses on grassland and forages in high output dairy farming systems. The issue of food security is asking for high output from agricultural systems. A major question is the extent to which societal demands, such as animal welfare and grazing, can be met in intensified production systems. Will further optimization of grassland management enhance profitability and reduce the environmental pressure of farming systems? The symposium focuses on high output at farm level (milk
production per ha). Keynote speakers from a number of different regions have been invited to address their regional high output dairy farming systems in their specific context, the problems encountered within those farming systems and, if possible, the solutions found. Secondly, optimal use of grassland and
fodder crops in high output systems is discussed. Finally, sustainable intensification in profitable animal production systems is examined focusing on high output and high (eco)efficiency at the farm level.