Survey questions ambitious Irish milk targets

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk quotas Dairy

Irish food industry employees have questioned the ability of the dairy sector to meet the challenge of increasing milk output 50 per cent by 2020.

Earlier in the summer the Irish government launched a policy document called Food Harvest 2020 in which it set out a vision for the food and dairy sector over the next 10 years. Doubling of milk output over that period is one of the key goals in the paper.

However, in a survey carried out by the Agriculture Science Association (ASA) in Ireland, members have suggested that this may not be achievable.

According an RTE news report, only one third of respondents said they have confidence in the ability of the dairy industry in Ireland to process and market 50 per cent more milk.

Milk quotas

The Irish government set the target because the phasing out of EU milk quotas is opening the market to the possibility of significant expansion for the first time in years.

Agriculture minister Brendan Smith said: “The ending of milk quotas in 2015 represents an exceptional opportunity to grow our milk output.”

But some figures in the industry suggest that increasing output may not be any easy task.

External factors

Michael Barry, director of the Irish Dairy Industries Association, told when Food Harvest 2020 was launched that the success of the milk push will depend to a great extent on external factors.

Another slump in global prices could jeopardise export growth and there are other uncertainties facing the industry like how to square the ambitious expansion goals with equally ambitious carbon emission targets.

Barry said a lot may depend on how government policies are implemented. In this regard, he said there is a realisation at government level of the importance of the food sector, and this is feeding into greater support for the industry.

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