At the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Awards, dairy farmers from both sides of the border scooped top honours for the exceptionally high quality of milk produced on their farms.
In the 400,000+ litres milk production category, the winning honours went to William Nicholson, Drumacrib, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan and runner-up Tadhg Sweeney from Kilcormac
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The awards publicly recognise the achievements of Lakeland Dairies milk suppliers who are committed to efficiency and quality in all aspects of their milk production.
The awards were presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., together with Lakeland Dairies Chairman Padraig Young and Chief Executive, Michael Hanley.
Killian Brennan, Kilcogy Upper, Co Longford won the 0 – 400,000 litres milk production category, closely followed by runner-up Derek Cranston and his son Clifford, Cormeen, Mullagh, Via Kells, Co. Cavan.
The Supreme Milk Quality Award Winner is John Marshall of Rylands, Omagh, Co. Tyrone who also won the Northern Ireland Milk Quality Award. The runner-up milk quality award winner in Northern Ireland is Stanley Caldwell of Beragh, Omagh, Co Tyrone.
Congratulating the winners, the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD, said: “Irish dairy farmers have a well deserved international reputation for their commitment to the production of the highest quality foods on a sustainable and safe basis. It is important that every aspect of our food industry underpins that reputation particularly as we seek to expand our output under Food Harvest 2020 and to create new opportunities from a continuous growth in global food demand. That is why these awards are deeply important and I warmly congratulate the excellent milk quality award winners of Lakeland Dairies.”
Paying tribute to the winners, Lakeland Dairies Chairman Padraig Young said it is very important to celebrate dairy farming achievements:
“As an expression of optimism in dairying for the future, these awards are specially significant for our winners in this 2012 UN International Year of Co-operatives. As a sector, we must all continue to share the values that have contributed to the success of co-operative enterprises in Ireland. We must continue to strengthen the business of co-operation for the future and this is our intention at Lakeland Dairies.”
“Lakeland has an excellent reputation at home and abroad for the quality of our foodservice products and dairy ingredients. That reputation is built directly on the quality of milk produced by our dairy farmers and on the advanced processing that we use to convert that milk into higher value dairy products.
“We all need to be prepared for quotas being abolished in 2015. Quality milk production and processing excellence will provide a winning formula for success. I am pleased to say that the right measures have been taken by Lakeland Dairies in recent years to ensure that we will have the processing capacity needed for expansion. Lakeland will be able to process every drop of extra milk that is sent to us for processing by our producers in the years ahead. This includes our recent investments in Bailieboro which is operating very successfully.”
Lakeland Chief Executive Michael Hanley also spoke at the awards. He commented, “Dairy farmers make a very strong contribution to the overall vibrancy of rural living in their communities, to the sustainability of our countryside and in the natural, safe and wholesome product that they provide to us for processing from their farms.
“In spite of current economic circumstances, we can still be reasonably optimistic for our dairy industry for the future. Lakeland Dairies exports to over 70 countries offering 170 branded dairy products to customers throughout the world. Working co-operatively and strategically together, we can continue to increase our international competitiveness.
On the prospects for milk production after quotas are abolished, Mr Hanley estimated that Lakeland Dairies would process anything between an extra 250 million litres and 380 million litres of additional milk from Lakeland farmers each year after 2015. This is on the basis of an extensive survey of producers and their current intentions.
“We could therefore be processing anything up to or over a billion litres of milk a year if favourable markets exist. It will still then be the global markets that decide the returns, and we know from experience that prices and demand can fluctuate, but dairy farming, processing and exporting will still make for a very viable and long term enterprise for the future, as it has done in the past.”
Mr Hanley concluded by congratulating each of the winners who he said are exemplary of the best practices in dairy farming.