"Dairying is the dominant enterprise in the region. Food Wise 2025 sets out a vision of the industry, to help continue its course of growth, and recognising the importance of strategic foresight if emerging opportunities are to be fully realised in the decade ahead."
I would submit in the light of the following information that the Dairy industry should not be continuing on its current course of growth:
- The average dairy farm in Ireland emits 502 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. This is three and a half times more than the average for beef farms, and for sheep farms, and it is four times more than the average for tillage farms.
- Average greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms have grown by almost 18% since 2012 as herds and farm sizes have grown. An Taisce has called on Minister Creed to retract misleading Dáil statements on rising dairy emissions | An Taisce - The National Trust For Ireland
- Together with the Climate Crisis, we have serious issues with regard to animal welfare. This year it is expected that over one and a half million dairy calves will be born in this country, approximately half of which will be male, unsuitable for the beef industry due to their breeding. These are therefore a waste product of the industry and are often shipped, unweaned, in breach of EU regulations, to places such as the Netherlands, Turkey, and Libya. Due to the number of unwanted calves, we have seen recently that calves are being killed and dumped by farmers who cannot afford to keep and feed them. There is currently a decrease in the demand for live exports from Ireland which is putting more pressure on farmers and causing serious welfare issue for these animals. Anger and disgust in Tipp as 15 calves are dumped in drains - Tipperary Live
- The mothers whose babies are taken from them are genetically bred to produce up to 10 times more milk for the industry than for one calf. This results in mastitis (increase in antibiobics which gets into human diet as well as the soil and water), lameness & loss of fertility.
- There are also ethical issues with breastmilk substitutes (formula milk) ie Green Love, being marketed and sold to Chinese mothers at great profit. It seems hypocritical to be telling Irish mothers that breastfeeding is the optimal way of feeding their babies while selling massive quantities of powdered milk, modified in a factory so chinese babies can digest it. Ireland now second biggest exporter of infant formula to China (irishtimes.com)
To re-imagine, with farmers, a kinder and more practical way of looking after nature, animals and essentially humans through other methods of farming including regenerative.
We cannot keep going in this direction. We cannot expect miracles in terms of technology to sort things out for us. Agriculture has a huge role to play in this country. We need to move away from the Business as Usual big business model and return to nature and support farmers who will have to make the transition to ensure a safe and healthy future for us all