The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. hosted a virtual meeting of the Dairy Forum today, Wednesday 31st March. The Dairy Forum brings all key stakeholders in the sector together to discuss the strategic development of the sector.
Minister McConalogue acknowledged the resilience the dairy sector showed in 2020 in increasing the volume of exports in such challenging circumstances. He stated, “Not alone ensuring that all milk supplied was processed by dairy processors during the pandemic without interruption, but finding a market for our dairy products in a challenged global marketplace in 2020, was a significant achievement. I commend the industry from suppliers to advisors and processors for working together co-operatively to achieve this. It is an achievement you can be proud of.”
The Forum received an update on international markets from Ornua and discussed developments on Brexit. This meeting on the Forum had a specific focus on two issues: dairy calves and environmental sustainability.
The Minister stressed that further efforts to improve the beef quality of calves from the dairy herd were needed as a long-term sustainable goal. He also stressed the need to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare are always maintained on all farms and during transport.
He added, “As Minister I will resolutely and robustly defend the live export trade as it is a crucial aspect of the sector and we are best in class from farm level right through to export but we must continue to take a proactive approach to keeping our standards as high as possible.”
Addressing the issue of environmental sustainability of the dairy sector the Minister reminded participants that “The focus of the dairy sector in the coming years needs to be on ensuring that production is managed in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
Referencing the recently published Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the role of the agriculture sector in this regard, Minister McConalogue said, “There is no doubt that it will be challenging, however, we must not lose sight of the end goal. By transiting the sector onto a more sustainable long-term platform, we can protect Irish dairy family farms for generations to come.”
Minister McConalogue concluded the meeting by thanking the members of the Forum for their full and constructive engagement on the issues discussed. He stressed the need for the all stakeholders to work together to protect and develop the sector. He asked stakeholders to continue to engage collaboratively with his officials in the various forums facilitated by this Department and said he looked forward to continuing to work with them to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.