A dairy industry committee has withdrawn a proposal to ban ‘mega’ dairy farms.
The Dairy Vision Group, which was set up by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConaughey to stabilize and reduce emissions from the sector, proposed that restrictions on the upper limit on cows on new enterprises be considered in its draft report.
However, in its latest version of the report seen by farming independentNo clear limits on newly entrant cow numbers are recommended.
Instead, the group says that the continued high-growth expansion model of dairy farming driven by extremely large herds is not seen as in line with protecting the family farm.
In its latest revised report, it recommends the need for a consistent milk intake policy in co-ops for beginners in the dairy industry who have not been in the industry before.
The group, unlike its previous report, stopped suggesting limits on the number of cows, instead preferring young farmers with enterprises compliant with the family-farm model, recognized by existing family farms and individual co-ops. along with other priority categories.
It said the policy should outline what is important to the industry, including a commitment to reducing emissions from dairy herds, while responsibly protecting the interests of their own businesses and the autonomy of cooperative boards. to respect
The group provided more details in its latest report on what was initially dubbed an agricultural retirement scheme.
Now called the Voluntary Dairy Exit/Demonetization Scheme, it aims to reduce emissions from the dairy sector by encouraging farmers to voluntarily exit dairy production, or at least by reducing the number of dairy cows for years.
The report detailed how the measure would only reduce emissions if the plan was structured in a way that prevents small numbers of cows from being replaced directly with breeding ruminants on the same holdings.
The measure, it said, would also depend on the accuracy of estimates that the total size of the dairy herd and the amount of milk production would stabilize by 2030; So that the voluntary reduction through the scheme will have a direct impact on reducing the total emissions.
The group suggested that the principles of such a scheme should include a commitment from the farmer to a specific reduction number at the commencement of a ‘contract’.
The scheme will operate over that contract period and will provide an annual payment per cow per year which is commensurate with the stated and verified deduction returns.
It is proposed that farmers could not calf any cow or register the birth on the AIM system, where they had opted to reduce the stock numbers altogether.
If the farmer has opted for partial reduction, it is suggested that they cannot rear any other cow other than the cows included in the herd but not covered in their reduction plan contract at the time of application.
The report also pointed out that ‘legally’ commitment would need to be linked to herds and holdings. Therefore, a farmer could not opt for this scheme, remove all his cows, and then transfer the holding during the contract and then start breeding cows on that holding.
It also noted that the duration of the contract and linkage to swarm/holding are essential elements to ensure reduction in emissions and persist for a period.
The draft report also highlighted the key challenges facing such a scheme, including commitment to herd reduction and the complexity in adding holdings to the contract period.
The latest draft also highlighted that several stakeholders represented in the group had raised concerns about the earlier version of the measure.
It was said that many expressed the view that such a scheme was to be funded by the treasury.