Dairying in Europe has an enormous future in terms of meeting the world’s protein requirements, MEP Colm Markey told the European Dairy Farmers Congress on Tuesday 28 June.
One of the key challenges at European level, he said, was delivering enough protein to feed the people of the world. This, he said, is not possible through plant protein.
"We need to progress in our animal protein industry. If you were to feed two servings of dairy to every person in the world, and that's the minimum that would be suggested in any balanced diet, you are talking about five times the amount of dairy that's produced on the planet today," he said.
Estimates suggest that over the next 10 years, global protein production needs to increase by 1.6% per year, Markey said.
"There is endless potential for dairy to be at the heart of the protein, which is the heart of the diet for the global population.
"For me, dairying has an enormous future," he said.
He acknowledged the challenges around water quality, air quality, biodiversity and animal welfare.
"The interesting thing about it is, at European level, there's less and less farmer voices or farmer representatives.
"It's so important to get those voices heard, because it's people like yourselves who find the solutions to the challenges.
"Farmers talk about practical solutions, farmers have to be at the heart of the policy decisions over the next five to 10 years," he said.
Energy and food production are central to European discussion at the moment, Markey said.
"We have an energy crisis, a fertiliser crisis which then has a knock-on effect on food security. For the first time in 25 years at European level, we are talking about food security," he said.