Almost nine out of every 10 Irish consumers are confident that Ireland’s dairy farmers will make the necessary changes needed to reach climate targets, according to the results of a 1,500-strong survey by the European Milk Forum.

Three-quarters of adults regard the industry as “hugely important” to Ireland and the same number believes the industry’s viability should be supported for future generations.

National Dairy Council (NDC) CEO Zoe Kavanagh said that the research shows Irish consumers appreciate Irish dairy farmers’ contribution to producing sustainable food.

“Our findings demonstrate that consumers have confidence in Ireland’s 17,500 family-run dairy farms to implement the necessary sustainability initiatives and to continue to respond proactively to the challenge of climate change,” commented Kavanagh.

“While concerns have been expressed about the need to implement technological innovations and achieve quick results, the findings also demonstrate that, overall, Irish consumers have confidence in dairy farmers to make a real difference and are aware of the work under way so far.”

Perception of economic challenge

However, only 44% of those surveyed recognised the challenges to implement sustainability measures while remaining economically viable.

“We do need to acknowledge the balancing act between remaining economically viable and ensuring our family-run dairy farms are supported to further enhance their milk production process,” the NDC chief continued.

“It is important not to lose sight of the fact that dairy farming supports 60,000 jobs and contributes €5bn to the Irish economy.

“Further to this, we know consumers place a significant value on dairy, with 54% believing it is part of a healthy diet and over 90% including milk, cheese and yogurt in their diet on a weekly basis.”