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Minister Smith Presents Lakelands Milk Quality Awards 2007

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today presented the prizes at the Lakelands Milk Quality Awards for 2007 in Errigal House, Cootehill, Co. Cavan.

The Minister thanked Lakeland Dairies for organising the Milk Quality Awards competition and said that it is one of the highlights of the northern dairy calendar. The aim of the event is to acknowledge and reward quality and excellence in milk production. "Quality starts on the farm and the very high standard in this year's competition reflects the level of commitment and investment at farm level". Minister Smith went on to say that the ultimate beneficiary of our continually improving milk quality is the consumer.

The Minister also congratulated Lakeland Dairies for their ongoing commitment to dairy processing in the region. This was most recently reflected in the awarding of grants for two ventures under the Dairy Investment Fund in 2007. When completed, these projects will improve the production of core and value-added products and will help ensure the future of the Agri-food sector in this region.

Minister Smith referred to the importance of the Health Check of the CAP with regard to the development of the Irish Dairy sector. The objective of the Health Check must be to provide a soft landing for the ending of milk quotas. This would allow dairy producers and processors the opportunity to avail of growing markets for higher value-added products.

Minister Smith said that changes to the Milk Quota Trading Scheme in 2008 had a positive effect for suppliers in areas that had previously experienced problems, such as Lakelands. The Scheme for the 2009/10 quota year is being finalised and the Minister announced that the closing date for applications for the next stage will be the 1st October 2008.

The Minister concluded by emphasising the importance of quality milk production and congratulated all the participants in the awards competition, and Lakeland's continued commitment to agri-food production in the region.

Date Released: 30 July 2008