In 1974 a voluntary dairy research levy was introduced, and was applied at the rate of 0.05 pence per gallon (0.014 cent/litre). This rate was later increased to 0.1 pence per gallon (0.028 cent/litre) in 1984. This was used for research to be carried out by An Foras Taluntais (AFT) for production and food research.
In 1988 AFT (the State research organization) and ACOT (the State farm advisory body) were merged to create Teagasc, which then received the levy proceeds. Teagasc set up 2 consultative committees, one for production and the other for food/processing research to provide feedback on research needs. These committees met once a year, and provided Teagasc with industry and stakeholder views.
In 1996 a proposal to double the levy was made, however this was not accepted initially. Following further discussions about the structure for the management of the levy, the Dairy Research Trust Co-op was formed in 2000. One of the issues to be addressed was the desire to provide real stakeholder input and responsibility for the management and allocation of funds. It was also understood that Teagasc and other research organizations would have the opportunity to receive funding, if their programmes are approved by the Board of Dairy Research Ireland.
To achieve this, the Dairy Research Trust Board was formed from nominees of ICOS, IFA and ICMSA, with 2 co-options, one of whom was an independent Chairman. Michael Dowling (former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture) was the first Chairman, and remained in that role until early 2010. Jim Beecher (former Assistant Secretary in the Department of Agriculture & Food) is currently Chairman.
The Department of Agriculture provided a research grant to the Dairy Research Ireland in 2004, to show its support for the new structure. This funding was to be allocated to research programmes identified by the Dairy Research Ireland, on the understanding that the increase in the producer contribution at least matched the Department grant.
Eventually there was agreement to increase the dairy levy to 0.036 cent/litre which came into effect late in 2006. The levy contribution is collected by the dairy processors and passed on to the Dairy Research Ireland. Therefore by early 2007, the conditions of the Department grant were met, and Dairy Research Ireland began to fund programmes for production and food research from the new funds.
In March 2013, the name Dairy Research Ireland was chosen as the operating name for the organization, and a new logo and identity has been developed so that farmers and other funding providers will more easily identify it.