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Consumers are the real winners

Minister for Agriculture & Henry Shefflin Join Seminar on Promoting Irish Dairy Excellence #MADEFORTHIS

“A guiding principle of the Food Wise 2025 strategy is that environmental protection and economic competitiveness are equal and complementary: one will not be achieved at the expense of the other,” said Michael Creed T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, speaking at the NDC hosted seminar on Promoting Irish Dairy Excellence in Goleen West Cork (17th June, 2016). The seminar was followed by a Teagasc farm walk hosted by Kieran & Catherine O’Sullivan at Dunmanus, Goleen, the 2015 national winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.

“Efforts to enhance sustainability and efficiency in the dairy sector are particularly important in the context of challenging market conditions. All of the finalists last year and all of the nominees in this year’s national NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are approved or registered with the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS),” said Minister Creed.

“We are so fortunate in Ireland to have access to nutritious milk and dairy produce supported by a sustainable, grass-based system. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards gives us an opportunity to highlight and showcase the excellence of Irish dairy farming. I am very proud to see the 2015 winners, the O’Sullivan family from Goleen in West Cork, showcase those high standards by hosting a Teagasc Farm Walk today,” said Minister Creed.

Consumers are the Real Winners

Ten times All-Ireland hurling champion Henry Shefflin who was in West Cork for the seminar said that achieving excellence did not happen overnight. “Excellence is earned based on commitment, hard work and having a keen passion for learning to do things in the best possible way. It’s not surprising that the dairy farm families featured in these national awards all share tremendous pride in the results that they achieve,” said Mr. Shefflin. “Consumers are the real winners here.”

Speaking in Goleen, Teddy Cashman, Chairman of the National Dairy Council said that NDC commissioned research demonstrated that the strong reputation for quality which Irish dairy enjoys with Irish consumers in the home market, is at the heart of our export success. “Buyers of dairy in the global and Irish marketplaces are looking beyond the consistent quality of the product to provenance and sustainability – and these are all areas where Irish dairy farming really shines,” said Mr. Cashman.

Speaking at the Dairy Seminar, Jeanne Kelly, Head of Communications at Ornua said: “In this increasingly competitive global marketplace, communicating the natural attributes and quality of Irish dairy products has never been more important. Our grass-fed message is our competitive edge and one we need to protect. We must continue to ensure that quality and sustainability are at the heart of everything we do to ensure we meet the needs of global consumers.”

Sustainable Milk Production: Now And in the Future

Dr. Tom O’Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc said in his presentation that Irish pasture based systems of milk production are recognised as being sustainable but we must all work to ensure that our ‘green image’ is maintained as our milk production levels increase.

“Independent research shows that Ireland has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, or carbon footprint, per litre of milk produced in the EU” said Dr. O’Dwyer.

“In addition, Teagasc research has shown that sustainable expansion can be achieved if we focus on increasing grass production and utilisation, with a fertile dairy herd and low capital cost infrastructure. For example, a recent analysis conducted by Teagasc using National Farm Survey data suggests that the more intensive, top performing farms - in an economic sense- emit relatively less greenhouse gases when compared to their less intensive counterparts.”

Challenging Times Reinforces Need to Reward Best Practices

“Times are genuinely very challenging for many Irish dairy farmers at the moment given the impact of global milk pricing. It is all the more reason to highlight and reward those best practices which drive quality standards on the farm,” said Dr. Jack Kennedy, speaking on behalf of the national judging panel for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards & Dairy Editor of the Irish Farmer’s Journal.

“We know that we can produce high quality, safe, nutritious foods in Ireland, with the high uptake in the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme also telling us that we can do this in an environmentally sustainable manner. This is also providing important jobs and growth in rural parts of Ireland.”

The Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) is the first national dairy scheme of its kind anywhere in the world. It sets out best practice in Irish dairy farms in animal health and welfare, land management, biosecurity, safe farming practices and the production of safe milk. It also provides a framework for measuring the continuous improvement of each participating farmer, recording and monitoring sustainability credentials at farm level.

SDAS calculates the greenhouse gas emissions of each participating dairy herd using the Teagasc Carbon Navigator tool and provides detailed feedback to each farmer helping them to improve the sustainability performance of their farm. The Carbon Navigator measures the length of grazing season, improved genetics/breeding, improved nitrogen efficiency, improved manure management and energy efficiency.

Teagasc Farm Walk

Delegates to the NDC hosted seminar were the first visitors to attend a free Teagasc Farm Walk hosted on the afternoon of 17th June on the dairy farm of Kieran & Catherine O’Sullivan at Dunmanus, Goleen, the most recent winners of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards, who received their national award in October 2015.

An electronic copy of the booklet from today’s farm walk is available below.

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