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McEntee highlights Milk Quality and Food Harvest 2020 Synergies

-         Minister of State presents Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Awards  -

Speaking today at the presentation of the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Awards in Virginia, county Cavan, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, emphasised the very real connection between the awards and the objectives set out in the Food Harvest 2020 Plan for the dairy sector.

Referring to the smart, green growth espoused in Food Harvest 2020, the Minister congratulated the Supreme Milk Quality Award Winner Noel O’Reilly, of Bailieboro, Co. Cavan and said that "Acting smart also means focusing on quality, and in encouraging their suppliers to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and quality in all aspects of their milk production, Lakeland Dairies is ensuring that what I might call 'the Food Harvest 2020 principles' are actively informing the ongoing development of the sector".

Minister McEntee highlighted the fact that dairy markets have recovered fully from the 2009 slump, with EU and World Markets performing strongly at present and the short term outlook remaining positive: "While there will always be short term fluctuations in dairy prices, it is important to remember that the medium term prospects for global dairy markets are good.  Growth in wealth and population is forecast to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products, which will benefit all parts of the sector".

Bearing in mind the renewed pressures on milk quotas that are likely to continue in the lead up to quota abolition in 2015, Minister McEntee reminded farmers that while Ireland is continuing in its efforts to ensure a soft landing for farmers in all member states, there appears to be little appetite at European level to re-open the Health Check agreement, and that they should ensure that they produce within quota: "It is worthwhile again to make the point that all milk producers must continue to observe quota limits, and not run the risk of incurring a potentially very damaging super levy. Deliveries so far in this quota year continue to run ahead of quota nationally. With the incurrence of a super levy an increasing likelihood as we head towards quota abolition, all dairy farmers must carefully plan their production activities and pay close attention to the limitations imposed by the quota regime".

The Minister concluded by congratulating with an acknowledgment of Lakeland Dairies' significant contribution to the sector as both an important outlet for dairy farm produce and the provider of valuable and rewarding employment in the North East region. He commended Lakeland Dairies for organising the Milk Quality Awards competition and for their continued commitment to quality, which is underpinned by the Lakeland suppliers.

Date Released: 10 October 2011