Sustainable production remains a top priority for Irish dairy farmers

Pictured prior to the European Milk Forum Panel Discussion at the NDC Garden at Bord Bia Bloom are Dr Deirdre Hennessy ( Lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, left) with Thomas Ryan (Head of Agri-Sustainability & Customer Engagement, Tirlán), Zoe Kavanagh (CEO National Dairy Council), Denis Fagan (dairy farmer) and event MC Aidan Brennan (Dairy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal, right). (Pic. Robbie Reynolds)

Dairy farmers are fully committed to taking further steps to enhancing sustainability and to ensuring that dairy continues to be produced in the most environmentally efficient manner possible, according to European Milk Forum Spokesperson and National Dairy Council CEO Zoe Kavanagh.

Speaking at this afternoon’s European Milk Forum panel discussion ‘Irish Dairy in a Healthy and Sustainable European Food System’, held in partnership with the National Dairy Council, Kavanagh highlighted the significant strides that are being made by Irish dairy farmers, who play a vital role as food producers, delivering a quality and nutritious product to consumers, both nationally and internationally.

Kavanagh was joined by leading figures in the Irish dairy industry – Dr Deirdre Hennessy, Lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture at University College Cork, dairy farmer Denis Fagan and Thomas Ryan, Head of Agri-Sustainability & Customer Engagement at dairy co-op Tirlán – who offered valuable insights into the work that is underway across all elements of the Irish dairy industry to respond to the challenges of climate change and to safeguard the future of the sector.

Speaking at Bloom 2023, Zoe Kavanagh, Spokesperson for the European Milk Forum in Ireland and Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council, said that farmers the length and breadth of the country are committed to sustainability and safeguarding the land for the farmers coming after them.

“Irish dairy has a great story to tell, with a great history on this island stretching back almost six thousand years. Dairy farmers are conscious that they are caretakers of the land and that it is their responsibility to ensure that the land they pass to the next generation is as environmentally robust and sustainable as possible. It’s reassuring that Irish consumers support dairy farmers, as European Milk Forum research has found that 84% call for production to remain in Ireland, with extra supports for dairy farmers to implement further sustainability initiatives.

“What’s crucial to bear in mind is that farmers need to balance implementing the latest in sustainable initiatives while still continuing to fulfil their role as food producers in an economically viable manner. Dairy brings significant economic benefits to regional and rural economies and accounted for €6.8bn of Irish exports in 2022. Consumers recognise and value this, with 7 in 10 consumers regarding dairy as a vital part of rural communities.

“From the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, dairy farmers are putting their shoulder to the wheel to keep producing top quality products with environmental efficiencies front-of-mind. When families purchase Irish dairy, they can be assured that it is sustainable, healthy and locally produced. Ireland’s grass based low-intensity farming model and temperate climate ensures that our 17,500 dairy farms are ideally placed to continue to produce dairy products in the most environmentally sustainable manner possible.”

Held in partnership with the National Dairy Council as part of the European Milk Forum campaign, ‘Dairy in a Healthy and Sustainable European Food System’, the event took place at the NDC’s show garden at Bord Bia Bloom, ‘Embracing the Elements’, which pays homage to the Irish climate and honours the crucial role our climate plays in the quality and sustainability of Irish farming businesses.