Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD today launched a National Sustainability and Quality Scheme for the dairy sector.
Speaking at an event hosted by Bord Bia, and attended by dairy sector leaders, Minister Coveney welcomed the foresight of stakeholders who had embraced the new National Scheme, which he said would build on the already formidable reputation of the Irish dairy sector in international markets, by capitalising on Ireland’s reputation for green, carbon efficient, high quality dairy production:
“The development of a National Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme has been in progress for some time. I am delighted that the efforts of all of the stakeholders in the sector have come to fruition today. Farm and other representative bodies, the dairy co-op movement, Bord Bia and the Irish Dairy Board have, through this initiative, made a significant contribution to the development of the dairy sector. This programme will position Ireland as a global benchmark for high quality and sustainable dairy production. It is the result of intensive collaborative work by farmers, industry and government, and is evidence of a forward thinking, progressive sector, gearing up to compete in the global market place.”
The Minister also said that this initiative was absolutely consistent with the policy approach and ambition outlined in the Food Harvest 2020 Report:
“This programme is a perfect fit with our Food Harvest strategy for “Smart, Green Growth”. It is about the provision of the kind of assurance to consumers and purchasers of Irish dairy products and ingredients that will lead to long term business relationships for Irish processors. Sustainable sourcing is a key strategy for procurement directors in many multinational food companies and today we are taking a major step forward in developing a brand image for Irish dairy that will resonate with all of the major international players in the food sector.”
The programme provides a uniform and internationally recognised mechanism of recording and monitoring the sustainability of Irish dairying at farm level and is the first national dairy scheme of its type anywhere in the world. Minister Coveney said that the Programme was an essential building block for an industry set to increase production by 50% following the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.
Concluding, Minister Coveney congratulated Bord Bia on its work in co-ordinating the programme, and said that he was confident that this initiative would lay the foundations for the sustainable development of an industry which was already making a tremendous contribution to employment and the economy: