“As far as I am concerned, the issue of putting future constraints on Irish milk output will not be part of the agenda,” McCormack stated.
“ICMSA will be making this point in the strongest possible terms from the very outset.”
The group – which was established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, at the end of last month – will meet for the first time tomorrow morning (Monday, February 7) in Dublin.
Former Teagasc director Prof. Gerry Boyle will be in the chair.
The membership of FVDG comprises representatives of all the stake holder groups operating within Ireland’s dairy sectors. The processers will be represented by Dairy Industry Ireland (DII).
Minister McConalogue has confirmed that the first task of the new group will be to “produce a detailed plan by quarter two of this year to manage the sustainable environmental footprint of the dairy sector”.
However, McCormack believes all of this thinking is riddled with inconsistencies. He said that “it will not be practically feasible for the new group to report until at least the end of June or possibly into July.
“It is imperative that the new group gets accurate farmer feedback on what is such a fundamentally important issue for every Irish milk producer.
“The minister has taken no cognisance of the fact that dairy farmers are now entering the busiest period of their year,” the ICMSA president said.
McCormack also pointed out that the challenge of climate change must be agreed across Irish society as a whole.
“Farming, and dairy in particular, must not be used as a convenient scapegoat for the country as a whole when it comes to a settling on realistic climate change targets.
“Aviation, for example, has a key role to play in this regard. But yet, I hear very little from government in terms of their climate change targets to be met by that sector,” he added.
The ICMSA president believes that Minister McConalogue should also look closely at his own climate change record before pointing in the direction of others.
“A case in point is the current dairy calf-to-beef scheme,” McCormack said.
“The minister introduced the measure but did not provide the funding required to make it work properly.
“ICMSA will be participating in the work carried out by the new group. But our priority will be to ensure that Irish milk output levels are fully maintained,” the ICMSA president concluded.