The Dairy Council for Northern Ireland has launched the final publication in its EU Sustainable Dairy Fact Book series.
The publication centres around the theme ‘Data in Action’, highlighting the important role data plays across the dairy sector in making informed decisions to boost sustainability, lower emissions and improve efficiency. The drivers for collection and use of accurate data sets by supply chains have never been greater with legislative targets, customer requirements, formal business reporting, sustainable financing and progress by other market operators all coming into focus.
The Fact Book was produced as part of the EU Sustainable Dairy Campaign, a multi-country European Milk Forum promotion programme to highlight the positive role of the dairy sector for climate action and the environment.
Chief Executive of the Dairy Council NI Ian Stevenson commented:
“As we mark the end of the EU Sustainable Dairy programme with the launch of the sixth and final Sustainable Dairy Fact Book, we can reflect on the leadership and progress made to date and highlight the hard work and dedication of farmers and dairy processors in tackling climate change.
“Over the past six years, these publications have been a vehicle for sharing stories from across the dairy supply chain, profiling 12 local farmers, sharing initiatives from the three main dairy processing companies and featuring cutting-edge research and scientific knowledge from AFBI, CAFRE and DAERA.
“The outlook is positive for the future sustainability of the sector. Our farmers and processors are following evidence-based guidance from the Department and from knowledge and research institutions such as CAFRE and AFBI, investing in new technologies, dedicated sustainability resources and implementing new processes all with the aim of being more sustainable.
“However, as a sector we are aware of the challenges ahead in relation to achieving net zero and lowering emissions and funding support will be needed from government to drive enhanced investment in sustainability initiatives. There doesn’t need to be a trade-off, both sustainability and profitability should, and can, live in coexistence.”
The fact book spotlights the recent collaboration between DCNI and the RSPB on the publication of ‘A Short Guide to Nature Positive Dairy Farming’. This report is the first of its kind and provides a comprehensive roadmap towards nature friendly practices within the dairy sector.
One chapter outlines the success of the carbon modelling Arc Zero programme led by Professor John Gilliland OBE, which aims to measure and manage carbon flows at an individual farm level, improving efficiency and in turn profitability on farm.
In addition, the fact book features a case study on Darren McCormick’s farm outside Bessbrook, focussing on Darren’s participation in the Carbon Benchmarking Programme and the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme and how the knowledge gained has contributed to his on-farm decision making. It also features a discussion between farmers John Oliver from Limavady, Aldergrove’s Mark Blelock and David Thompson from Sion Mills, on the challenges faced by farmers in relation to environmental sustainability and the long-term sustainability of the sector more generally.
In the past 33 years the carbon intensity of milk production has decreased from an average of 1,927 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilogram of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) in 1990 to 1,214 grams in 2021, with milk production expanding by 92% in that time frame.
The dairy sector in Northern Ireland makes a huge contribution to the local economy, worth almost £1.5 billion annually and sustaining the livelihoods of around 3,200 dairy farming families and over 2,200 employees of dairy processors around Northern Ireland, producing nutritious, high quality and affordable food with our farmers acting as custodians of the natural environment.
To view the 2023 Fact Book, visit the Dairy Council NI website https://www.dairycouncil.co.uk/what-we-do/sustainable-dairy/factbooks/fact-book-2023