MSD Animal Health recently hosted a conference foc-
used on One Health and Sustainability in the Thomas Prior Hall, Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Throughout the day each session examined certain challenges that currently face the agricultural industry and some of the actions that can be taken to build a more sustainable future.
The one-day event welcomed up to 150 attendees, comprising of veterinary customers and industry representatives.
The conference featured four sessions, One Climate, One Future, One Globe and One Health.
All based on the idea that there is one climate to protect, one future to safeguard, one globe to uphold and one health to maintain.
Irish farmers ability to bring the country to carbon neutrality was a key talking point during the One Climate session. Professor John Gilliland, Director of Global Agriculture and Sustainability at
Devenish, said the ability for farmers to sequester carbon via the soil grassland and trees had not been recognised enough in Ireland.
“We have learned that there are farms, today, in Ireland that are below net zero.
“We are not working on the carbon baselines on farm yet and it is vital that farmers have a baseline as this allows them to measure the sequestration potential of their farm against the carbon emissions it produces.
“The more efficiently we can produce livestock, and the more carbon we can store, the closer we get to carbon neutrality.”
Ag-technology was a key focus of session two. There is an estimated shortage of around 4,000 labour units on Irish dairy farms. Labour saving technology has a key role to play in alleviating this labour shortage on farm but also some technology can provide further benefits such as animal health monitoring.
MSD Animal Health General Man-ager Fergal Morris, and Ruminant Business Director William Minchin highlighted the MSD Animal Health technology portfolio, such as the SenseHub Monitoring Technology, designed to help farmers improve productivity and make better informed decisions based on the data from the systems.
“The mission of MSD Animal Health is connecting people and animals for a smarter future. It is our data driven solutions along with our animal health products that we believe can play a key role in meeting industry challenges, including optimising animal productivity, alleviating the shortage of skilled labour and provide earlier intervention with a sick animal which can reduce the usage of antibiotics,” said Fergal Morris.
The importance of embracing ag tech was also reiterated by Economist David McWilliams and Justin McCarthy, CEO of the Irish Farmers’ Journal, in the One Globe Session.
Mr McWilliams said that Ireland is a significant player when it comes to the global agriculture industry, however, to grow it needs to embrace technology and innovation, mirroring other successful industries such as the Irish tech sector. As the agriculture industry continues to deal with labour shortages, the role of technology and innovative solutions will help bridge this gap.
He also made the point that people in Ireland are obsessed with food and when talking about agriculture, refer to Ireland as a food industry not just an agricultural industry as sometimes that can lead to focus on the negative aspects.
The changing landscape of anti-biotic use in EU veterinary medicine was the topic of the One Health panel discussion featuring leading industry representatives Caroline Garvan, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Conor Geraghty, FarmGate Veterinary Group, and former president of the Irish Veterinary Council Prof Paddy Wall, University College Dublin, and Conor Sheehy, MSD Animal Health.
During the discussion, Caroline Garvan stated that antibiotics are
needed in a sustainable animal production system and for this
reason the Department of Agri-culture, Food and the Marine would not endorse any promotion of antibiotic free produce but instead promote the responsible use of antibiotics in the agri-food sector.
The final take home message from the conference was we must act together as one. The challenges facing the agricultural industry are clear and change needs to happen now.
Vets, farmers and all stages of the supply chain have a role to play on the journey to a sustainable future and MSD Animal Health is committed to providing the appropriate technologies, services, people and products to meet the current and future industry challenges.
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