The report from the Food Vision Dairy Group that was presented to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue this week “has unfinished business”, according to one of the stakeholders in the group.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) said this morning (Wednesday, October 26) that the report requires further work to build a consensus among stakeholders.

ICOS was represented in the Food Vision Dairy Group by its Dairy Committee chairperson John O’Gorman.

O’Gorman said: “Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone around the table over the past nine months, it has not been possible to arrive at a point whereby everyone can sign-up to the report findings.

“We were very clear at the most recent meeting that ICOS wanted a final report supported by all stakeholders, including the farm organisations, the co-op sector, industry, and government.”

O’Gorman said that milk suppliers require a “clear roadmap” to reducing emissions and everyone has a responsibility to provide this clarity.

He did acknowledge that the report contained a number of recommendations that ICOS endorses, including, among others, the replacement of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertiliser with protected urea by 2025; the development of methane-mitigating feed technologies; enhanced breeding strategies focussed of efficiency and low-carbon traits; and the integration of the dairy and beef sectors.

“However, ICOS has expressed its concerns in relation to the proposed exit scheme in respect to the impact of the measure on land mobility and generational renewal.

“In our view, the minister, having reviewed the report, should remove the recommendation from future discussions at it lacks the support of the key stakeholders,” O’Gorman said.

The ICOS Dairy Committee chairperson also said that further consultation is necessary to agree an “ambitious but attainable” nitrogen fertiliser reduction target.

“We believe a consensus on this point is achievable and very close and we call on the minister to continue dialogue with all stakeholders to resolve the unfinished business as part of the report,” O’Gorman said.

“The co-op sector will strongly support their members in the transition that lies ahead, including the development of sustainability incentive schemes and [the development of] a charter as recommended in the report outlining the commitment of the sector to delivering environmental targets.

“However, any charter agreed will respect the autonomy of co-op boards to protect the interests of their individual businesses in relation to new entrant policies,” O’Gorman commented.