The national climate and air roadmap for agriculture, Ag Climatise, has been welcomed by Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) – but the industry representative group warned that the plan would require proper support and a whole of government approach to meet such ambitious targets.

In a statement responding to the roadmap yesterday (Wednesday, December 9), DII said it commits to and will support the achievement and delivery of the strategies and objectives of the government’s proposed Ag-Climatise policy.

It said it will do this “in partnership with its suppliers and key stakeholders, as part of a clear path to achieve lower emissions for the dairy and food sector”, adding:

The roadmap presented by the plan contains hugely challenging targets for all parts of the industry to achieve, and will only be delivered by a cohesive ‘whole of government – whole of sector’ approach over the course of the next decade, that will be backed by proper funding.

DII pointed to an EY report this year, which showed that the Irish dairy industry delivers €11.3 billion a year to the economy delivering economic sustainability and tens of thousands of jobs all around the country.

The industry representative body stressed that the actions we will undertake with this plan must be: balanced; not damage competitiveness; and deliver measurable win-wins for the environment, rural incomes and the rural economy.

‘Sustainability in all its forms’

Commenting on the climate report, director of DII Conor Mulvihill said:

“Sustainability in all its forms is already at the heart of Irish dairy. The Ag Climatise programme should build on the internationally recognised existing carbon efficiencies of the Irish dairy sector.

“We have started our journey with the success of the Origin Green programme and its associated Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, the ‘Dairy Sustainability Ireland’ initiative, and the approach of the Agricultural Sustainability and Support Programme – ASSAP, as well as department funding programmes and joint programmes with Teagasc.

We welcome that all of these approaches are contained in the document, and we want the ambition of the plan to be matched with proper funding and coordination to achieve the targets.

“It is recognised that, in addition, new approaches and mechanisms will be needed to progress and advance the achievement of low-carbon objectives for Irish society, the economy and the agri-food/dairy sectors,” the director added.

“This will require an openness to new approaches and new solutions and the dairy processing sector will support and participate in the development of such new approaches and solutions with other partners.

“We would encourage that with the implementation of low carbon strategies, there are significant co-benefits for other environmental priority areas including ammonia, water quality, and bio-diversity as well as co-benefits for soil productivity improvement which will improve farm productivity and farm incomes,” Mulvihill concluded.