Farmers need to take control of environmental debate - Glanbia
Farmers will have to take control of the environmental debate as the custodians of the land are the true Citizens Assembly, according one of the country's major dairy processors.
Sean Molloy, Director of strategy with Glanbia Ireland, warned the environmental challenges ahead for the farming sector will have to be recognised.
"We are going to have to do the right thing but most importantly we are going to have to be seen to be doing the right thing - stand up, communicate what we are at and don't allow the agenda of the environment or debate to go into the hands where I don't believe it will be for the best outcome for farmers," said Mr Molloy as he addressed the Teagasc National Dairy Conference in Kilkenny.
It follows the recent Citizens Assembly recommending a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
He pointed out both farmers and industry were focused on managing the land to the highest level.
"It is in farmers' interests, and it always has been that they would hand on the farm to the next generation if not the same then perhaps better than they inherited it," added Mr Molloy.
"The requirements and demands on farmers into the future will be very different."
He pointed out the demands and challenges from an environmental perspective will be very significant.
"These, unless we can approach them in a very measured and scientific fashion, will be the quota of tomorrow - be it water, nitrates, phosphorous or carbon - all of these are real challenges that require a concerted effort to address, and we can't ignore the reality of these challenges to our industry."
Teagasc regional manager John Moloney highlighted the rapid growth in the dairy industry post-quotas as he pointed out from 2020 to 2016 there was a 50pc increase in average herd size in Kilkenny from 61 to 94 cows and in Waterford from 71 to 105.
He pointed out the FoodWise 2020 growth plan for the sector would be met by the end of 2018 nationally.
Mr Molloy highlighted the major changes internationally with a rise in food nationalism, closing borders and a "world in which we are facing the most significant threat in quite some time with Brexit upon us".
He pointed out that regardless of what happens with our nearest neighbour the opportunities will be in the international markets.
"It is a world where the emerging markets are where most of the growth is taking place China, Asia, Africa, Middle East - these will be the markets where we have to produce and sell our products," he said.
Mr Molloy pointed out the world was increasingly becoming urbanised, with the mindset "removed from the rural". He said producers need to think about how they can respond to the challenges for healthy food, with consumers demanding food at the highest ethical standards and sustainable practices.
He said the concept of "natural and free-from" was of significance to consumers in a way it never was before.
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