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Dairygold Leanfarm Speaking Points - Minister Creed February 2018

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for the opportunity to address you all today here in Liam & Geraldine Herlihy’s farm. I am delighted to be here. I know that John, Jim, and many members of the Dairygold team have all put in tremendous effort to bring this initiative to fruition, and they deserve warm congratulations for those efforts.
  2. Events such as this provide an important opportunity to acknowledge the huge value of Irish dairy farming to our own domestic economy and to communities throughout the country, as well as an opportunity to promote Ireland’s image, across the world, as a natural, grass-based, secure, and sustainable food nation.
  3. Lean Farm recognises and celebrates the passion of Irish dairy farmers, and Ireland’s dairy sector, in promoting continuous improvement in areas of farm safety and quality, better resource efficiency, and overall enhanced quality of life for farmers and farming families through time-saving, reduced stress and reduced physical labour.
  4. In particular I want to acknowledge the progress Ireland’s dairy farmers have made in recent years, through sustainable increases in production, through better integration in the supply chain, the generous sharing of knowledge with one another and within our communities – which Irish farmers have been doing down through generations – and through promoting activities and practices that the next generation will benefit from.
  5. Practical techniques and principles that farmers can look to for continuous improvement are important factors in supporting the future of Irish dairy. Sustainable, lean, environmental and efficient practices can and do have a positive impact on the economic stability of Ireland’s dairy sector.
  6. Ireland is a small, open economy – our relationship with trading partners around the world is a key driver of our success in this global food business. We export more than 85% of our milk and dairy produce. In the past 5 years Ireland’s dairy produce has reached 159 countries around the world.
  7. Over the next 5 years we will continue to be among the world’s fastest growing dairy producers. It is possible that we may reach our target of a 50% increase in production this year in 2018, well ahead of the 2020 target. It is worth remembering that even on the global stage, Ireland’s milk production makes a small contribution to the total volume of milk being produced around the world.
  8. In Ireland we are fortunate that there is a broad consensus between Government, farmers and industry in terms of where the dairy sector is evolving towards, namely a top class producer and exporter of quality dairy products and ingredients.
  9. Irish dairy farming sits alongside the best in the world. It is about our plentiful supply of grass and water, our natural grass-based production, and our sustainable farming methods. This focus on aspects such as animal welfare, and care of the environment, has allowed us to develop a strong export-focused agri-food economy.
  10. Ireland is committed to strengthening our trade relationships with overseas destinations and, in particular, promoting the quality of Irish dairy produce to global consumers; the importance of Irish farmers and farming communities to rural Ireland; and allowing Irish consumers to celebrate the efforts and achievements of Irish dairy farming here at home.
  11. Ireland has a reputation for high standards of food safety. We have sought to measure and to promote our sustainability credentials, in a verifiable and evidence-based way.
  12. I know from recent travels to a number of our key markets that our sustainability claims are a key point of differentiation from our competitors and these quality assurance schemes must continue to underpin our efforts in this respect. Our efforts through many schemes such as Origin Green and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme give credence to our achievements in sustainable, safe, and quality produce.
  13. Dairygold’s Lean Farm programme is further evidence of progress on these efforts, showcasing the real achievements of farmers – over the course of a pilot scheme of just 6 months – in continuously improving farm safety and farming practices, and ultimately supporting the high quality of Irish milk and Ireland’s dairy sector, as well as ensuring the welfare and sustainability of our family farms.
  14. The success of our efforts is underpinned by the quality of our produce:  through being best in class in terms of the quality produce we supply, the safety of our farming and processing methods, the sustainability of our systems, and our ability to verify these criteria objectively, credibly and, importantly, to the satisfaction of consumers both here in Ireland and across the world.
  15. I’d like to finish by thanking you again for the opportunity to address you today.
  16. Finally I’d like to reiterate my view regarding the enormous value of this programme, today’s event, and keeping all those involved in the sector informed on our efforts, activities, and indeed our successes - from farm-gate through to fork. Once again, congratulations to all involved.