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Dairygold launches sustainability training programme designed to identify pathway to on-farm carbon reduction targets

Dairygold launches sustainability training programme designed to identify pathway to on-farm carbon reduction targets

23rd June 2021

Dairygold today held the first module in its farm sustainability training programme for its 10 signpost farmers to equip them with the skills and knowledge to help them achieve Dairygold’s 2030 carbon reduction target. In 2020 Dairygold became the first Co-Operative in Ireland to define its ambition to achieve carbon reduction on the farm by committing to an average farm carbon intensity target of 0.7Kg CO2(e)/ Kg FPCM in 2030. The Co-Op now provides every milk supplier with a measure of their individual farm’s carbon footprint in an effort to drive a Society-wide initiative to achieve the carbon reduction target.

The aim of the sustainability training programme is to equip the 10 signpost farmers with additional knowledge, skills and practical competencies to achieve carbon reduction targets. The 10 signpost farmers will be the agents of change for the wider Dairygold milk supplier base, where the successful measures implemented on their farms can be replicated across the Society’s Munster based catchment area. The training programme modules will cover the five key pillars of the Signpost Farms Programme – reducing agricultural emissions, improving water course quality, managing and improving on farm biodiversity, improving the economic sustainability of the farm enterprise and also the measurement of carbon sequestration.

Addressing the launch event, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue, TD, said “The Irish dairy sector has the science and technology to reduce on-farm emissions, we have the whole industry aligned and wanting to make progress and we have people like the Dairygold signpost farmers willing to adopt these technologies and point the way forward. Initiatives like the Dairygold sustainability training programme are what we need to see more of – measurable initiatives to achieve targeted reductions in emissions.”

Dairygold CEO Jim Woulfe said sustainability is not just a policy for the co-op. “It is a culture that is engrained throughout our entire organisation,” he said. “We need to act on the facts and the research that exist demonstrating how much of a threat climate change is to Dairygold and our industry. Our sustainability training programme is just one of the many ways we as a Society are championing change throughout the industry.

We have set ambitious targets to reduce our environmental impact. In 2020, Dairygold led the way in providing Milk Suppliers with their farm’s carbon footprint number on their monthly milk statements,” he added. “Dairygold is fully committed to driving forward this positive change to ensure the sustainability, profitability and longevity of the dairy industry in Ireland.”

Profit and sustainability can go hand in hand, said Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman. “Through efficient production farm profitability can be achieved, while protecting the planet for the benefit of all. That is what sustainability is about, the appropriate balance between people, planet and profit. We understand the changes to be made need to make environmental sense, as well as economic sense. In 2019 the Dairygold Board introduced a Milk Supplier Sustainability Bonus of 0.25cpl to encourage more sustainable milk production by increasing milk solids from a healthy herd, 0.25cpl as an overall available bonus. This is a demonstration of Dairygold’s commitment to lead the way in the sector’s sustainability drive.”