In order for Ireland to retain liquid milk producers, they have to be sufficiently rewarded, National Dairy Council (NDC) CEO Zoe Kavanagh has told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“Fresh milk suppliers will only stay in business if it’s rewarding for them. One of the things we never stop to consider here in Ireland is that we have a 365-day fresh milk supply.

“We have a very unique characteristic of our market in that it’s not UHT. It’s a fresh milk market.

“In order to retain liquid milk producers, they have to be sufficiently rewarded. I think it would be a real shame if we lost what we have here in Ireland.

“If we lose them, then we slide into a UHT market, which is an entirely different product experience,” she said.

Water quality

Kavanagh also said that the dairy sector needs to do more when it comes to water.

“I think emissions, water and biodiversity, they are three big things and I think with water the public relate to water far more so than they do to emissions.

“We need to ensure that we restore the quality of our water bodies."

On the future of the NDC, she said the organisation has been in existence for a long time and hopes that it continues to do so.

“I see the next 10 years as, actually, despite the challenges, very exciting for Ireland. I think this is the moment where two things are going to differentiate us and if we get it right, will leave as us as one of the most highly regarded dairy producers in the world,” she said.

Kavanagh said that our grass-based system and the nutritional contribution of dairy compared with other food products are the two things that will make it stand out.

“This tension between environmental impact and nutritional contribution, everyone will start to realise that not all calories are made equal.

“If you look at the nutritional contribution of dairy calories versus most other calories, it’s going to give us quite a unique position in the debate on sustainable diets. So grass and nutrition is what’s going to really underpin NDC’s agenda,” she concluded.