Ciaran Fitzgerald: The way forward for Irish agriculture just isn’t dairy veganism

Once I learn RTE’s newest ‘propaganda’ information to the RTÉ Investigates program because of air tonight (Monday, tenth July) on the Irish dairy sector, it acknowledged “at a time” when there are “more and more extra vegan and allergen alternate options on our cabinets.. Irish dairy continues to develop”. “.

Right here we go once more, I assumed – is RTE’s give attention to plant-based alternate options at odds with the practicality and procurement wanted to attain decarbonization of the Irish financial system?

Let me clarify why – I not too long ago attended a Nationwide Financial and Social Council (NESC) convention entitled: Exploring Simply Transition in Irish Agriculture and Land Use, on the Convention Corridor in Dublin.

The unanimous view was that the final three years of blaming and shaming had run out, and that for actual decarbonization and environmental enchancment throughout the Irish financial system, shopping for by farmers particularly within the case of agriculture and land use, was the reply. Absolutely the key and for the shopping for to occur the tribal, binary and anti-agrarian rhetoric should cease.

In essence, what’s now being acknowledged is that for implementation of decarbonization to be efficient, practitioners have to be concerned – whether or not that be farmers within the case of land use and agriculture, or owners, or motorists within the case of house heating or transportation challenges.

So why is RTE so centered on plant-based alternate options?

Let’s first state the apparent – the expansion of Irish dairy merchandise has completely nothing to do with vegan merchandise or different alternate options, it is an ironic distortion of actuality to counsel that the context for the expansion of Irish dairy merchandise considerably conflicts with the supply of vegan alternate options.

The information concern Irish dairy merchandise whose manufacturing and ordering strategies have been outlined by a European Union (EU) regulatory framework since 1973.


This imposed an entire vary of high quality requirements, product definition from 1984 to 2015 and provide restrictions, by way of a nationwide quota system – with a set quota for Eire limiting milk manufacturing to a most of 5 billion liters every year.

It needs to be famous once more on this context that New Zealand produced 5 billion liters in 1984 and has elevated its milk provide to greater than 20 billion liters by 2020.

Because the abolition of the EU quota in 2015, Irish dairy manufacturing has seen its milk provide improve to 9 billion liters every year with dairy exports exceeding €6 billion and most significantly the spending of the Irish financial system has elevated from €1.5 billion by eliminating the quota to €5 billion within the 12 months 2022

Along with the large improve in spending within the Irish financial system, 60,000 jobs from farm to processing to distribution and analysis and growth are supported by Irish dairy manufacturing and regardless of pronouncements on the contrary Eire’s dairy cow numbers at 1.6 million head are solely at 80s ranges.

Moreover, any knowledgeable evaluation of Irish dairy manufacturing would present a rise within the manufacturing of medical diet merchandise, which can’t be substituted for plant-based alternate options after they happen.

Irish dairy

Recognizing the a number of dimensions of Irish dairy merchandise, Irish Dairy Sustainability has at its core, a program of steady enchancment for all elements of dairy manufacturing – together with environmental impacts and animal welfare – whereas nonetheless producing a grass-based product for which there’s rising world demand.

It’s this very robust world demand that may decide whether or not or not Irish dairy development succeeds, and a function of this demand is that emissions from Irish dairy merchandise that fall underneath carbon finances necessities are about half of world averages.

In addition to a dairy unfold with a mix of vegetable and milk fats, it was developed by Irish dairy firms within the late Nineteen Eighties initially to satisfy the problem of spreading capability, regardless of issues amongst many within the dairy sector that this may kill butter manufacturing.

Quick ahead and the scenario that has developed is that it’s pure margarine manufacturing that’s underneath menace and now artificial merchandise make up the most important share of the yellow fats market.


In the meantime, butter consumption continues to develop pushed by elevated demand from the baking and confectionery markets.

So the thought of ​​any dichotomy relating to Irish dairy is nonsense and represents a drained ideological try to place meals selections as based mostly solely on a tanned hierarchy of ethical superiority.

In actual fact, meals consumption and meals selections rely on a bigger set of dynamic standards similar to diet, style, tradition and supply in addition to key questions of worth and availability.

By way of Irish client consciousness, the precedence of conventional dairy merchandise actually underpins the most recent give attention to the value of a liter of milk on the coronary heart of the ‘price of dwelling’ disaster.

Regardless of the preachy and sometimes contentious debate about what constitutes sustainable meals manufacturing over the previous three years, nowhere within the meals inflation debate has there been any point out of dairy alternate options or the truth that they’re – in lots of circumstances – priced. As much as thrice the value of actual milk.

Briefly, Irish dairy has its challenges as we all know it, however the notion that the context for these challenges are plant-based alternate options is off the wall, demonstrating equal measures of maximum bias and detachment from actuality.

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