‘75% of consumers don’t know what is happening on farms to protect the environment’

“75% of consumers don’t know what is happening on farm to protect the environment.”This was a statement made by the National Dairy Council’s (NDCs) CEO, Zoe Kavanagh, at the launch of a brand new fact book.

The new fact book is the second annual publication produced as part of the three-year campaign, known as ‘Sustainable Dairy in Europe’ – launched by the European Milk Forum (EMF) and funded by the EU [European Union].

Some of the details of which were released today, November 20.

Also Read: ‘Four in ten consumers believe they are well informed about sustainability’ – new research

The event took place last week on Thursday, November 14, on the Hearne family farm, the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Award winners.

Speaking at the launch, Kavanagh said: “Ireland is the most carbon efficient producers of dairy; so we are starting from a very good starting point and that is because of our grass-based family farm model in Ireland – that serves us exceptionally well.

Grass is best crop we grow and we have zero water stress, because 99% of the water used in the system is falling from the sky and captured.

“Climate change is happening and we know it. And, even though Ireland is one of the most efficient dairy producers in the world we have to get better.

We have 85% of Irish consumers believing that Irish dairy can be sustainable in the longer term, but 75% have no idea what is taking place on farm to make us sustainable in the longer term.

“So, we need to reassure that questioning consumer that we take climate change very seriously.

“Today is about sharing on farm practices that have already started, that are going to bring a reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), improvements in our water quality and soil quality, increase biodiversity and all of these coupled together will make Irish dairy more sustainable.”

Concluding, she said: “If we harness all the support around us, and we have farmers adopting change quickly on the ground, Ireland can stand up and be leaders in the face of climate change when it comes to dairy.

“We can then step up and be one of the best small dairy producing nations in the world; that is the ambition we should set ourselves.”

Also there on the day, were a number of farmers, along with industry personal which had gathered to share how they are making significant changes – at farm level – to protect the environment.

The farmers present on the day had made significant changes on their farms to reduce their environmental impact; some of these measures included: the adoption of the use of protected urea fertiliser; use of low emission slurry spreading (LESS); improving EBI; and protecting biodiversity.

While the industry personal from both Teagasc, Bord Bia and Glanbia discussed some of the ongoing initiatives, such as the Glanbia Open Source Future Farm Programme and Teagasc’s Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) – currently in place to help farmers reduce their environmental impact.

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