EuroDairy, a new international network, has been formed to increase the economic, social and environmental sustainability of European dairy farming as it faces unprecedented challenges.
AgriSearch, the NI Agricultural Research and Development Council, is one of the founding partners of EuroDairy. Founded by the farming sector in 1997 AgriSearch gives Ulster producers a direct involvement in research of practical value to farm businesses.
Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme EuroDairy will foster the development and dissemination of practice-based innovation in dairy farming, targeting key sustainability issues following the abolition of milk quotas: socio economic resilience, resource efficiency, animal care, and the integration of milk production with biodiversity objectives.
EuroDairy spans 14 countries, from Portugal to Poland, and from Sweden to Spain, encompassing 40% of dairy farmers, 45% of cows and 60% of European milk output. The project adopts the interactive model of the European Innovation Partnership, putting farmers at the centre of practice-based innovation, adapting and developing new and existing scientific knowledge to produce implementable solutions, which can then be shared across the network.
In the EU regions, farmer-driven ‘Operational Groups’ will come together to target specific problems or opportunities for the dairy sector. At national level, EuroDairy partners will stimulate the establishment of these ‘multi-actor’ groups consisting of farmers, advisors, vets, researchers etc. and the EuroDairy network will link these existing and new groups cross-border, so that innovations identified in one country or region, can be shared with another. In addition, the project will establish 120 innovating dairy farmers across Europe to demonstrate best practice, and push boundaries in the application of new knowledge. AgriSearch will be commencing recruitment of a number of pilot farms in Northern Ireland during April.
Omagh milk producer Drew McConnell, Chair of AgriSearch’s Dairy Advisory Committee said: “AgriSearch is delighted to be a partner in this project as encouraging the adoption of innovative, science-based practices in farming is at the core of our mission so this as an excellent opportunity to work with others across Europe in this endeavour.”
Katrine Lecornu, President of European Dairy Farmers said: “EDF is very pleased to be part of this project at a crucial time for European dairy farming. The ethos of EDF, to highlight the impact of translating science and innovation into commercial practice is a perfect complement to EuroDairy.”
Richard Holland, Chairman of the European Cattle Innovation Partnership added: “The involvement of dairy levy bodies, farmers’ organisations and cooperatives, and knowledge institutions in an interactive bottom-up approach will ensure the work has practical relevance, and multiply the benefits across Europe.”
Ray Keatinge, EuroDairy Project Coordinator, AHDB Dairy said: “EuroDairy is a huge opportunity for dairy farmers to interact and exchange knowledge with scientists, industry experts and each other. I am very much looking forward to working with our 19 partners, and their associates in the main milk producing regions of the EU, to help make a real difference to the sector.”