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45
DECEMBER 2018
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Sustainability Focus
Getting the
full milk story
A new fact book on sustainable dairy in Europe,
and the results of a consumer survey were
launched in November by the National Dairy
Council (NDC). Here, NDC Chief Executive Zoe
Kavanagh stresses the importance of examining
the full milk story, and argues the case for further
discussion around the idea of `sustainable diets'
When the European Milk Forum was successful in its application
for funding to roll out a new campaign to communicate the dairy
sector's response to delivering on sustainability it was unusually
a source of tension for the countries involved. National Dairy
Councils from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, France,
Belgium and The Netherlands are participating in the campaign.
"Normally, when we are doing product promotion either around
health benefits or heritage benefits it is very straightforward.
But when you get to sustainability it is no longer feeling like a
precompetitive space: it feels like an active competitive space."
As a result, what was agreed in terms of the rules of engagement
was for each country to demonstrate how it was taking a
responsible view towards sustainability and in particular climate
change, rather than comparing metrics across the six. It is an
interesting approach, not least because it clearly shows that
sustainability is complex topic and presents unique challenges,
and strengths, in different regions and farming systems.
In November the three-year EU funded campaign
- `Sustainable Dairy in Europe safeguarding our
resources' - was officially launched with the publication
of a "fact book" for each country involved.
While the first chapter looks at the global and European
perspective, and the second examines the national
perspective, it is the third chapter that Zoe is keen to
highlight: "I feel that this has been the missing chapter
in the whole discussion around climate change and
sustainability and it is what we are calling `sustainable
diets'. So, particularly for dairy, there has been a
lot of scrutiny around the production systems,
and
cows as methane producers... without actually
looking at the nutritional density of the portfolio
of dairy products for population health. The
suggestion, for example, that we should limit
or cut out dairy in the diet because that is
good for planet Earth and greenhouse gas
emissions is actually a very narrow view of
the world because it doesn't take account
of the nutrient richness of the portfolio of
products. If you actually took dairy products
out of the diet and tried to replace them with
I feel that this has
been the missing chapter
in the whole discussion
around climate change and
sustainability and it is what we
are calling `sustainable diets'.