Dairy farmer, Mark Blelock, has been elected Chairman of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland, and Dermot Farrell, General Manager Foodservice Division with Lakeland Dairies Co-op, has been elected vice Chairman.
Both men, who will hold office for two years, see the Dairy Council’s dual role of supporting the export of dairy products and the consumption of dairy products locally, as increasingly important.
Speaking following his election, Mark Blelock, who runs a herd of 140 cows in partnership with his father, said: “The past two years have been very challenging for the dairy industry, and dairy farmers in particular, but we have seen market upturn since the middle of last year, which has brought welcome relief. However, the reality is that the Dairy Council’s work is more important than ever and has a critical role to play in supporting the industry to develop sales and add value to our local milk.
“Until recently the Dairy Council’s focus was on developing the consumption of dairy products in our home market, however, with most of our local milk going into products which are exported, it has now, with the assistance of EU funds, started to support export activity outside of the EU. I am confident that over the next few years this work will help our dairy companies expand their customer base and increase Northern Ireland’s dairy export business.”
Newly elected Vice Chairman Dermot Farrell said: “It is only since becoming a member of the Dairy Council Board that I have fully appreciated the work that is undertaken to increase consumption of milk and dairy products, not only in Northern Ireland, but also in third country export markets.
“Our membership of the European Milk Forum has allowed the Dairy Council to pull down more than £1.5 million in EU funding over the past eight years, and this has been used effectively to increase the consumption of milk and dairy products in Northern Ireland in particular. Even though our industry is export oriented and is now being supported in these activities by the Dairy Council, it is important that we continue to develop and protect our home market so as to have a good platform on which to build exports.”