Dairy farmers are facing ferocious challenges.
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A capping of milk production is almost inevitable to achieve the climate change targets set for the country, according to PJ Kelly, the new Irish Holstein Friesian Association president.

However, he’s unsure how it will be done.

“I think higher production per cow and less cows would be the way to go — the higher number is getting more attention,” he says.

“Dairy farmers are facing a ferocious challenge. (State authorities) will be well able to patrol it through the direct farm payments — that is the way they control how a farmer can operate.

“It is a system of punishment for farmers if they don’t adhere to the rules they make, which is unfair.

“To say that the beef herd should be culled as well is crazy. The beef herd is spread out in parts of the country that need beef animals to maintain the countryside.

“There are people making rules for farmers who have no knowledge of farming. It is very unfair to be making those rules non-stop and changing the goal-posts consistently.

Difficult

“They are making it more difficult for farmers who have come a long way in terms of good farm management, slurry storage, proper control of silage effluent etc.

“This country has benefited hugely from exports of dairy products, and climate change is one of the things that is going to strangle it.

“It is a pity because there is a big export market for dairy products, and processing for that market is now one of our major industries.

“There are far more things outside of farming that are causing the climate problems, and we don’t hear a lot about them.

“Our dairy animals are world-class.

There is great demand for the product and the prices are good because the quality is very good from a mainly grass-fed diet.

“The climate change agenda that is coming down the track is going to be far worse than Brexit for farmers.

“Farmers have spent a lot of money on their facilities and there is the danger that demands for climate change are taking it too far and will strangle the industry.”

PJ is calling for “the farm organisations to stand up now and represent the farmers’ side in fighting this case” because if the laws which are coming in go through, “all we are doing is shooting ourselves in the foot as a country” by destroying returns.

“Farmers will have to be more proactive and more vocal and not just lie down and accept it,” he says. “There are people making rules that are going totally beyond what is good farming practice.”

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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