Tuesday, 15 February 2022
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
I am fully committed to supporting the economic, social and sustainable development of the dairy sector both now and into the future.
The sector has been a shining light of our industry for many years and it will continue to be a cornerstone of our Agriculture sector for years to come.
The sector is a major contributor to the Irish economy, supporting over 60,000 jobs across dairy farming, milk processing, distribution, marketing and research, with exports expected to exceed €5 billion euro in 2021 for the third consecutive year.
Prices have held up extraordinarily well post Brexit and during the pandemic, and the sector is performing strongly. This success has been built on a strong reputation for environmental efficiency.
Under the Climate Action Plan 2021, challenging targets have been set for the Irish agriculture and land use sectors. The plan sets out an indicative 22% to 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, based on 2018 levels. To achieve sectoral targets and stabilise dairy emissions, a key priority for the Irish dairy sector, agreed under the auspices of the stakeholder-led Food Vision 2030 strategy, is “to produce a detailed plan by Q2 2022 to manage the sustainable environmental footprint of the dairy sector”.
To achieve this action, I have established the Food Vision Dairy Group. The Group has been tasked with providing an initial report by the end of March setting out how emissions associated with the dairy sector can be stabilised and then reduced; with a final plan to be submitted by the end of May 2022. These will provide a road map for the development of the dairy sector of the future.
The ultimate reward for reducing emissions from the dairy sector is, not just meeting our regulatory requirements, but most importantly defending and building the reputation of Irish dairy as a world leader in international markets in its commitment to Sustainable Food Systems, bringing social, environmental, and economic benefits. This will provide the basis for a future competitive advantage for the sector on a global scale.
The continued development of market opportunities at home and abroad is also a key goal under the Food Vision 2030 strategy. In 2021, Irish dairy produce reached 147 markets, demonstrating the diversified nature of our Irish dairy exports. with destinations outside of the EU and UK exceeding 50% of all exports for the first time. There is am incredibly bright future for the dairy sector, it a sector that will continue to flourish and will be an excellent career opportunity for many farm families.