A new dairy farm assurance scheme was hailed as a world first at its launch in Dublin yesterday.
The scheme, which has taken 18 months to thrash out between the farm organisations and milk processors, is designed to measure the carbon footprint of every dairy farm and encourage farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices on their farms.
It will form a key part of the €3.5m promotion drive for the sector by Bord Bia.
Speaking at the event, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that the scheme would also make good business sense for the sector.
"It will drive the development of an industry worth almost €3bn in exports and is a perfect fit with the corporate responsibility strategies that inform multinationals' buying strategies," he said.
He said that the measures required to improve environmental performance would also help reduce input costs and improve profitability at farm level.
The scheme sets out a series of criteria that farmers must meet in order for their milk to meet the new quality assurance standard.
It will also monitor the sustainability of the Irish dairy sector which is expected to notch up a record €3bn worth of exports this year on the back of strong global markets. This is a 45pc increase on 2006 levels.