Lush green grass, grown here in Ireland, is the main food that cows and cattle eat. This grass is grown on carbon capturing soils which amongst many other climate-mitigating efforts has helped Ireland to achieve the following:
- Ireland’s milk is the most carbon efficient in the European Union
- Ireland’s beef is amongst the top five most carbon efficient in the European Union.
The sustainability of Irish meat and dairy is worth thinking about at a time of increasing global demand for dairy and meat.
Agricultural policy is focused on environmental action also.
of the measures in Ireland’s Rural Development Programme have environmental and climate reducing elements.
There’s a lot of good environmental things happening at farm level too.
More than 200,000 carbon footprint assessments have been completed across thousands of family farms in Ireland, as part of Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.
50,000 farmers participate in the fully subscribed Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme. This scheme is delivering the following sustainability actions:
- Almost 13,000km of watercourses are being fenced off from livestock
- Almost 46,000 hectares of biodiversity positive traditional hay meadows are being planted.
- Almost 240,000 ha of carbon sequestering low-input permanent pastures are being created.
- 360km of arable grass margins, as well as 62km of riparian margins, are being created.
- Irish beef and dairy cows are grass-fed and enjoy a more natural pasture-based system.
- Irish dairy herds graze open pastures for an average of 240 days of the year, enjoying a diet that’s 95%* grass and grass-based forage.
- Irish beef herds graze open pastures for an average of 233 days of the year, enjoying a diet that’s 95%* grass and grass-based forage.
- Ireland’s sustainable assurance schemes, such as SBLAS and SDAS, under which farmers are required to follow a documented Animal Health Plan involve on-farm audits on every participating farm every 18 months.
- The Animal Health & Welfare Act applies strict regulations on how animals are cared for.
- The use of hormones for milk stimulation or growth promotion in farm animals is banned in Ireland.
*Figure based on SDAS data over a 3 year period.
*Figure based on SBLAS data over a 3 year period.