New dairy scheme generates concerns

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Dairy farmers will be required to have 10pc extra cubicle spaces over and above the number of cows being milked, according to new proposals due to come into effect next year.

It is just one of a number of suggestions that has been leaked from discussions on a new sustainability scheme for the dairy sector that is being developed by the industry and Bord Bia.

A technical group comprised of representatives from the ICMSA, the IFA, the Department of Agriculture, dairy processors, Bord Bia and the Food Safety Authority has been thrashing out the details of the new scheme, which aims to increase the sustainability of Irish milk.

However, farmers at the ICMSA AGM expressed concerns that the project was moving closer to becoming another quality assurance scheme rather than a sustainability scheme designed to add value to Irish milk.

Other proposals coming out of the technical group's discussions include a requirement on farmers to have no-smoking signs in milking parlours and new certification requirements on purchased feeds.

Speakers from the floor said that these new feed merchant requirements would simply duplicate existing inspections that merchants in the feed sector are already being subjected to.

"Our members believe this will simply add another layer of costs onto the price that they are paying for their feed," said ICMSA president, John Comer.

"Farmers have no problem investing in increasing the sustainability of their enterprises, but only if they can see a return in the milk price," added Mr Comer.

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The development of new criteria for a sustainability scheme for the dairy sector first ran into trouble in October. Farmer representatives were concerned about the possibility of farmers failing audits and being relegated to 'second tier' status.

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