The final draft report of the Food Vision Dairy Group is due to be sent to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine this week, Agriland understands.

The group convened today (Monday, May 23) in a bid to resolve some of the outstanding issues, and progress the report to completion.

It is understood that some of the aspects of the report that are still contentious relate to: the voluntary retirement/deintensification scheme; the lack of generational renewal within the proposed retirement scheme; the proposed fertiliser-reduction policy; as well as the proposed development of a common co-op policy for new entrants, among others.

Agriland also understands that representatives of the main farming organisations forfeited their lunchtime to hammer home their concerns with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), and to ensure that their views and observations are understood and represented in the final draft report.

It is believed that Minister McConalogue will be presented with it on Wednesday (May 23), while the group will also receive a copy in the coming day or so in order to identify any anomalies within it following on from today’s meeting.

The draft report has not yet been costed and Agriland understands that this is a concern for the group, which is very eager for the DAFM to present the figures associated with the various aspects of the report.

It is understood that farming organsations made a strong point, at today’s meeting, that adequate funding must ringfenced to implement the key measures within the final report. 

The Food Vision Dairy Group was established by the minister at the end of January 2021, and was tasked with examining ways for the dairy sector to help achieve agricultural and land-use targets in the Climate Action Plan 2021.

A source told Agriland:

“Farms have evolved significantly over a short period of time and there is no point coming out with a 2018 reference year that might have no impact on some farmers, but might have awful impact on those that have increased production.

“So, there has to be a practicality that allows farm families to evolve, over time, to remain efficient.”

The group is expected to meet again in June and although a publication date for the final report is yet unconfirmed, it expected to be completed by mid-to-late summer.

Food Vision Dairy Group – report recommendations

The full list of recommendations within the current version of the report are:

  • Consider a voluntary retirement/deintensification scheme;
  • Explore the potential of a cap and trade emissions model;
  • Explore the possibility of measuring and monitoring carbon production at individual farm level;
  • Reduce chemical nitrogen (N) use in the dairy sector by 30% in the short term (2025), with a 35% reduction target in the medium term (2030);
  • Achieve an 100% replacement rate of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) with protected urea by the end of 2025 for grass based dairy production systems;
  • Develop methane-mitigating feed technologies;
  • Development methane-mitigating breeding strategies;
  • Adopt a common co-op charter on sustainable milk production that underpins the family farm model;
  • Increase investment in climate change research and in knowledge transfer (KT) and establish a Climate Change Research Liaison Group (CCRLG ) with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • Design a climate action communications strategy;
  • Increased adoption of low-emissions slurry spreading (LESS) – 100% adoption of LESS for all dairy cow organic manure by 2025;
  • Ensure 100% of dairy farms are soil testing for pH by 2025;
  • Drive Clover Adoption and Multi-Species swards (MSS)- ensure all dairy farmers have incorporated clover/multispecies on 20% of their farm grassland by end of 2025;
  • Milk recording- strive to achieve 90% adoption rate by end of 2025;
  • Develop energy diversification opportunities;
  • All co-ops to adopt sustainability programmes by 2025;
  • Introduce animal health measures listed in Action 314 of the Climate Action Plan 2021.

The Food Vision Dairy Group is chaired by former director of Teagasc, Prof. Gerry Boyle, and includes representatives from farm organisations, the co-op and dairy processing sector, state agencies, University College Dublin and officials from the DAFM.