Milk sector must adapt to demands of sustainable production - Dairygold CEO

Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe
Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Irish farming needs to adapt to the challenges of sustainable production and climate change, Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe has warned.

Mr Woulfe says sustainable production is demanded by customers such as Danone and Nestle.

Asked if climate change could be the 'new quota' for dairy farmers, he said: "I'd be concerned if we don't adapt, if we keep our head in the sand, it certainly will."

Mr Woulfe added: "If we stay in the dark on this one it will creep up on us."

He said it was important for the co-op to identify and articulate the issues coming down the road.

"Whether they are palatable or unpalatable it is about setting out what is likely to emerge. We cannot and we will not be able to continue growing at the rate we are growing without dealing comprehensively with the sustainability agenda," he said.

Mr Woulfe said that 100pc of Dairygold's growing milk pool is from farms that are sustainably dairy assured and they were carrying out a lot of work in that arena.

"It is a first step on a journey towards educating our members and bringing them online in the context of the whole sustainability piece," he said, adding the co-op was doing a lot of work on water quality and environmental issues.

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On a move towards dairy produce free from genetically-modified organisms on the continent, Mr Woulfe said it has "constraints and price implications".

He said Irish dairy had "unique" selling points which were not being promoted enough and the whole issue about being certified grassfed was being examined.

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