Kilkenny cattle feeding
The Maddoxtown farmer who chairs ICMSA’s Farm Services Committee said it’s almost a year since he pointed out that a practical engagement with climate change has to begin with what is within farmers’ powers and capacities ‘right here, right now’.
Denis Drennan said that as long ago as last July he had identified a lack of energy in co-ops’ promotion of protected urea and that has not been rectified.
“Even at that stage we were concerned about the disconnect between co-ops’ stated position on the need for more climate efficient farming and the reality of their position. Increased use of lime and protected urea on farms alongside using meals with lower crude protein contents at grass are areas we should focus on to lower GGE on farms.
“Farmers – certainly ICMSA - do not consider any of those changes to be controversial, but we need co-op support, particularly at the ‘sales’ end, to encourage their uptake. Last July we stated that we needed the co-ops to actively get behind the changes that we all know must be made, we were hearing then – and we’re still hearing now - lots of noisy agreement from the co-ops. But the fact is that, at store level, we’re just not seeing the sales staff actively offering the environmentally safer products and giving the farmers the positive choices that they should be offered. We keep seeing sales staff selling feed with a 16% to 18% crude protein content, when Teagasc is telling us that 10% to 12% is more than adequate when at grass. From the farmer point-of-view, the feeds with lower crude protein and the protected urea are a more economical as well as being environmentally better, it’s a ‘win-win’ for us”, said Mr Drennan.
“There is a perception of a conflict of interest amongst co-ops where, on one hand they do want to see the lower emissions that will secure the future for sustainable milk production, but on the other hand, they want to the make easy and higher-margin sales to farmer-customers. We need to see the Co-ops really pushing and actively promoting feeds with less crude protein while at grass, and the spreading of protected urea. And that message has to go down to the sales staff,” said Mr Drennan.