NORTHERN Ireland’s dairy industry marked World Milk Day on June 1 with colleagues around the globe, by celebrating the growth in local dairy exports and successes in promoting sustainability to the local sector.
The Dairy Council for Northern Ireland has announced that the local dairy sector generates in excess of £1.2bn for our economy, with global exports growing to over £350 million.
Making the announcement, Dr Mike Johnston, MBE, Chief Executive of Dairy Council NI, said: “World Milk Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievement of the global dairy sector and the good work carried out by people across the supply chain, from the farmers to the producers. With over 2,000 people employed locally, there can be no doubt as to the importance of the dairy sector to the local economy as well as society, and the continued growth in demand for high-quality and sustainably focused products.
“It is also important that we, as a sector, tackle climate change head-on. Our members and their suppliers have been at the forefront of delivering this by promoting and adopting sustainable farming practices, leading to real results.
“Growing consumption and new export markets have seen annual production in Northern Ireland increase by 50 per cent since 1990, yet the increasingly efficient use of resources and new innovative practices in the last 25 years means that the sector has been able to reduce its carbon footprint by almost a third.
“In recent years, we have delivered a massive 68 per cent reduction in emissions from the use of fuel and electricity. Similarly, we have been able to reduce emissions from fertilizers application by 49 per cent. These are results to be proud of, but not to be complacent about. We have a lot more that we can and will do to tackle this issue and deliver a more sustainable future.
“Issues such as climate change and animal comfort aren’t solely local concerns but affect the sector on a global scale, and on the global stage Northern Ireland is widely acknowledged as a thought leader in innovation and technology with some of the highest standards of environmental protection and animal welfare in the world,” said Dr Johnston.
Donald Moore, Executive Director of the Global Dairy Platform, has welcomed the achievements of Northern Ireland’s dairy sector, saying: “Northern Ireland’s dairy sector plays a vital role in sustaining rural communities, providing employment, and safe and nutritious food for us to enjoy. The United Nations anticipates that resource usage will double by 2050, highlighting the urgent need to radically revise our approach to production and processing.
“For that reason it is important that we get the environmental aspects of farming and dairy processing right. This was echoed in the Paris climate agreement in 2015 which set binding commitments to limit global temperature rise and recognised that these efforts must not threaten production and food security. I am very impressed with the research being done by CAFRE and AFBI and the work of Northern Ireland’s dairy sector in addressing the issue of climate change,” said Mr Moore.