Farmers are the “original environmentalists” – and want to grow in a sustainable manner, Glanbia Ireland chairman John Murphy has said.

Furthermore, Murphy called on environmental groups with issues to come and talk to the co-op about them “to work together” on “progressive solutions”.

Speaking at an online information session organised by Glanbia this morning (Tuesday, March 30), at which the processor revealed a number of changes to its peak supply management mechanism, the chairman brought up the topic of the environment and what he believes are unfair perceptions:

“It’s something that concerns me as chairman, that there seems to be this thing going around in the background, where dairy is being linked to damaging the environment.

I take exception to that – and I think as an industry we need to fight back on that.

“Glanbia’s story really is your story – it’s about your family farms, your hard work, your passion and your pride in your farms and businesses,” Murphy said.

“I know as a farmer myself, we’re always striving to improve our farms; always trying to make them better, add value and have something that we can hand on with pride to future generations.

“We’re all custodians for a few years – and I can assure you there’s no farmer that wants to do any damage to their land or their environment.

As a matter of fact, I regularly say that farmers – we’re the original environmentalists. We are environmentalists and we’re always ready to try new ideas.

Continuing, the chairman stressed that farmers are adaptable and will “always embrace new technologies, new systems and better ways of doing things”.

He noted: “At the moment, the asks are around sustainability, around biodiversity, around water quality.

“But I see such good work going on on all our farms every day – there’s some really good things happening. OK, in some places there are improvements to be done – and that’s happening.

“Because farmers are willing – they want to do it right. They want to farm in a sustainable manner.

If I had any message for environmentalist groups today it’s simple: Come talk to us. Let’s work on progressive solutions; let’s find answers – let’s work together.

“We’re all on the same page here. We all want a sustainable environment; we all want to live on a sustainable farm and in a sustainable countryside.

“I have no doubt that we can grow in a sustainable manner,” Murphy asserted.

“We’re lucky here in the Glanbia catchment area that we’re farming on probably the best soils and some of the best climates in the world for producing milk and we have the lowest carbon emissions in Europe and one of the lowest in the world.

“So, I have no doubt that we have a bright and progressive future ahead as dairy farmers,” the chairman concluded.