IRELAND – The Irish dairy industry has decided to embark on industrial activities to ensure low carbon emissions in the future, according to a report produced by the Irish Co-operative Organization Society (ICOS).

The report named “Positive Steps Towards a Low Carbon Future for the Irish Dairy Sector”, was compiled by a Working Group established in 2016 by ICOS.

Irish dairy sector is on the forefront in ensuring low carbon emissions from their industries having been recognized as the most carbon efficient in Europe by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in 2010.

Having a market cover in over 155 countries for its dairy products and ingredients, adopting a low carbon future policy by all dairy co-operatives in Ireland will ensure continuing, sustainable and long-term success.

Ireland’s farming and agriculture mainly comprises of grass-based dairy and beef production with most of agricultural land used for grass, silage or pasture production.

According to the report, since 1990, Ireland’s carbon emissions have reduced by 3.5% achieved through advances in productivity, efficiency and milk quality standards.

The carbon emissions were kept significantly even at the Irish dairy farms which also contribute significantly to the support of biodiversity, with abundant wildlife across the rural environment and use of less water than is used in other countries.

“Climate change due to global warming is an important strategic challenge facing Irish and global agriculture,” said ICOS President Martin Keane.

“Very significant investments have been made in the future processing capabilities of our industry.

Producers have contributed strongly to that including investment and expanded production.

Research suggests that dairy expansion for the period 2016 to 2020 will result in a US$3.36 billon economic impact for Rural Ireland.”

“The Irish dairy industry acknowledges its responsibility to develop in the post quota era in a manner that protects the environment and, as an industry; it fully adheres to the principle of sustainable intensification.

Ultimately, the Irish dairy sector exports to a multiple of Ireland’s national population, a highly nutritious food source recognized as the most carbon efficient in Europe.”

The co-operatives have played vital role in delivering future sustainable growth and in as well as development of public policy related to climate change and agriculture.

“There is no room for complacency. There is simply too much at stake.

Agricultural systems throughout the world will have to provide extra food to feed a growing population – expected to exceed 11 billion people by the end of this century.

We must produce more food, while conserving available land, water and energy resources,” added Martin Keane.

Ornua, the largest exporter of Irish dairy products welcomed the report noting that collaboration within the Irish dairy sector would maintain Ireland’s status as the most carbon efficient producer of dairy products in Europe.

The Irish dairy industry had confidence that ICOS report would help them understand the challenges brought about by climate change and identify opportunities to build a sustainable, low carbon future for the Irish dairy industry.