Agriculture, Food and the Marine | To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the future of the dairy industry, with particular reference to the need to reduce carbon emissions while at the same time ensuring the development of the industry
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the future of the dairy industry, with particular reference to the need to reduce carbon emissions while at the same time ensuring the development of the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Irish dairy industry is one of our largest and most profitable industries. Irish dairy exports exceeded the €5 billion mark for the third year in 2021. Strong market returns across the core categories of butter, cheese, and powders, coupled with diversification efforts into new markets have led to a sustained increase in value.
Last year, we exported over 1.6 million tonnes of dairy products to approximately 147 different countries. Ireland is currently the 10th largest dairy exporter in the world, shipping over 85% of our dairy products to the EU and beyond.
The outlook for Irish dairy remains positive as buyers seek to secure product amid weaker European and Oceania milk output, a factor which has assisted in sustaining high dairy prices.
I am, however, acutely aware of the potential pressures being faced by many sectors across the agriculture industry due to the increase in input costs, exacerbated by the impact of the illegal war in Ukraine. My Department will continue to monitor the markets and any impacts on the agri-food sector.
In relation to the other key challenge faced, the dairy sector accounts for approximately 40% of total greenhouse gas emissions within agriculture sector, so it is clear that emissions from the sector will need to be stabilised and then reduced in order to bring the agriculture sector into its target reduction range of a 22%-30% reduction.
The Food Vision Dairy Group, which I established, is tasked with advancing the actions for the dairy sector identified in Food Vision 2030, the ten-year stakeholder-led strategy for the Irish agri-food sector; and I expect to receive an interim report from the Group this week.
I am confident that working together we can stabilise and then reduce emissions from the dairy sector, positioning Ireland as a world leader in sustainable food systems, meeting our climate targets, and ensuring that the market delivers a reward for our quality, sustainably produced food, particularly for our farmers, and their families who are the bedrock of the sector.
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