Carbery Group will pay a 1c/l milk bonus to its farm suppliers who milk record, meet EBI (Economic Breeding Index) thresholds, commit to water quality assessment and use protected urea in 2023.

In total, the payments under Carbery’s sustainability bonus scheme ‘FutureProof’ could provide €6m in annual milk bonuses for those farmers who sign up.

To assist farmers in preparing for the full roll out of the scheme next year, Carbery says it will be paying a 0.5c/l bonus to every farmer who signs up in 2022 for the remainder of the year, with the payment doubling in 2023.

Carbery CEO Jason Hawkins said the bonus will “ensure Carbery farmers take their sustainability approach to the next level” and that the measures selected “will have the most impact, in terms of reducing environmental impact, improving efficiency on farms, and shifting the dial quickly on emissions and water quality”.

He said such sustainability improvements are what “we need to see in order to secure the future of dairy farming”.

Additional €5,000

Overall, the sustainability bonus will see the average Carbery supplier earning an additional €5,000 annually.

However, the group highlighted that this will be “in addition to savings and gains that would be made through efficiencies and increased productivity”.

“We are committed to providing this support, and to continue to champion responsible, ethical and sustainable farming, producing quality milk,” said Carbery chair Cormac O’Keefe.

The west Cork co-op says it is supporting its dairy farmers to take sustainability to the "next level".

To receive the 1c/l bonus in 2023, Carbery dairy farmers will have to milk record at least four times a year, use a percentage of protected urea as part of their total fertiliser use, commit to an ASSAP (Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme) water assessment and meet certain EBI thresholds.

An ASSAP assessment is a free and confidential advisory service provided to farmers to measure and then help improve water quality on their farm.

Carbery has not made clear what threshold or EBI levels farmers require or the percentage of protected urea use with which farmers will receive the sustainability bonus.

Sustainability pledge

Any supplier receiving Carbery’s 2022 sustainability payment of 0.5c/l will sign a ‘sustainability pledge’ and complete the ASSAP water quality assessment if requested to do so. It is understood the EBI, protected urea and milk recording requirement will only come into effect in 2023.

Jason Hawkins said: “Though we are starting from a good base, with years of positive action behind us, farmers have a huge challenge ahead to meet the agriculture reduction target of 25% as set out in the Climate Action Plan. We will support our farmers all the way, and Futureproof will be a key enabler of this. We look forward to working together with Government on their proposals to do the same.”

Carbery suppliers can find more information on the FutureProof initiative here.

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