Dairy group report fails to get full support

The Food Vision Dairy Group has “unfinished business” as its final report fails to get unanimous support from the group stakeholders.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue confirmed this week that he has received the final report of the group, which contains 19 proposed measures on how to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector.

Group chair Gerry Boyle said this week that “despite the best efforts of all concerned, it has not been possible to secure an unanimous agreement” among group stakeholders on the report.

Proposals in the report include reducing chemical nitrogen use by 22%-25% by 2025 and 27%-30% by the end of 2030.

A voluntary exit/reduction scheme is also recommended in the report.

The Irish Farmers’ Association reserved its position on these two measures, while Macra na Feirme rejected them both.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association reserved its position on the report as a whole.

Other recommendations made in the report include targeting a 100% replacement rate of CAN with protected urea by the end of 2025 for grass-based dairy production systems, and increasing the adoption of low-emissions slurry spreading by 90%-100% for all dairy cow slurry manure by 2025.

ICOS Dairy committee chair John O’Gorman said that the Food Vision dairy group has “unfinished business”.

He said it was “unfortunate” that despite the best efforts of those around the table over the past nine months, “it has not been possible to arrive at a point whereby everyone can sign up to the report’s findings”.

“We were very clear at the most recent meeting that ICOS wanted a final report supported by all stakeholders,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“Milk suppliers require a clear roadmap and pathway to reducing emissions and everyone has a responsibility to provide this clarity.”

While Mr O’Gorman said there are “many positive” recommendations in the report that ICOS can endorse, it has expressed concerns about the proposed exit scheme relating to the impact of the measure on land mobility and generational renewal.

IFA president Tim Cullinan said that his association is seeking a meeting with Mr McConalogue to resolve outstanding issues in relation to the report.

“While a lot of good work has gone into these reports, the reality is that a lot has changed since these sub-groups were established,” he said.

“We have had the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has raised real concerns about food security,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dairy Industry Ireland director Conor Mulvihill said the publication of the report allows Irish dairy “to further increase and enhance its competitive advantage in global markets”.

“This is the beginning of a new phase of delivery and implementation to transform the Irish dairy sector in line with the vision and philosophy of Food Vision 2030,” Mr Mulvihill said.

“We will be consulting with member processors with a view to bring individual strategies in line with the 19 forward recommendations.”

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