What is it?
The Dairy Research Trust Co-operative, which will be known as “Dairy Research Ireland” (DRI) was formed to administer the dairy research levy which is collected from dairy farmers in Ireland. It manages the collection of money, and allocates funding to research programmes which are selected by DRI.
The purpose is to fund programmes which will provide farmers and industry with information which will improve efficiency, or increase returns, leading to improved profitability.
How do we Operate?
DRT Funded Research
The current contribution by milk producers amounts to 0.036 cent/litre. In Ireland, Dairy Research Ireland dairy farmer funding amounts to approximately €1.80 per cow (or approximately €125 per dairy farmer). This generates an annual contribution of over €2m. The Board of Dairy Research Ireland decides on research priorities and invites proposals from recognized research organizations for production and food research. Approximately 70% of the funds are used for production research, with the balance of 30% for food research.
Dairy Research Ireland includes the main stakeholders (ICOS, IFA and ICMSA) to oversee the effective use of dairy producers financial contribution to dairy research (the “dairy levy”). Dairy Research Ireland sets the priorities for research which is it willing to fund, and invites research proposals for research programmes from research organizations which meet these priorities.
Dairy Research Ireland has emphasized that it will fund programmes which will generate a financial benefit which can be quantified and can be completed within a specified time frame.
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.