Dairy farmers from Down and Tyrone have won top honours for the exceptionally high quality of milk produced on their farms.
The Milk Quality awards publicly recognise the achievements of Lakeland Dairies milk suppliers who are committed to efficiency and quality in all aspects of their milk production and farm management.
Winning a milk quality award is an exceptional achievement where the winners are identified from a group of over 2,100 farmer milk suppliers to Lakeland Dairies.
The overall Northern Ireland Milk Quality Award Winners are John Smith Snr and his son John Smith Jnr, Ballyholland, Newry, Co. Down. John Smith Snr attended the awards with his wife Celia, daughter Olive and son in law Paul McConville.
The Highly Commended Northern Ireland Runner-up is Adrian Kyle, Aughnacloy, Co. Tyrone. Mr. Kyle attended the awards with his wife Lorna and their son Philip together with Philip’s fiancée Victoria Robinson.
The awards were presented by the internationally recognised food safety expert, Professor Pat Wall (University College Dublin School of Public Health and Population Science), together with Lakeland Dairies Chairman Alo Duffy and Chief Executive, Michael Hanley.
Congratulating the winners, Professor Pat Wall said: “Farmers and the dairy industry on this island have a very positive reputation worldwide.
“The Lakeland Dairies milk quality award winners are exemplary of the high quality food image that we need to project. It is essential to remain constantly vigilant and ensure that all required traceability procedures and processes are in place from farm to fork. That will underpin the continuing appeal of our food products on international markets.”
Professor Wall urged dairy farmers to stay as optimistic as possible in view of currently difficult market conditions. “Milk producers have a deep commitment to dairy farming across many generations. They are professional and long term players in the dairy industry. Current circumstances will improve through a balancing of supply and demand over the coming months. I know that it cannot come soon enough, but it will come.”
Lakeland Dairies Chairman Alo Duffy said: “Producing the best quality milk takes immense hard work and commitment all year around. These winners show the very high standards that exist across our entire milk supply base and they are wholeheartedly to be congratulated.”
Lakeland Chief Executive Michael Hanley also spoke at the awards.
He said that global market conditions are weak and unfortunately this is likely to remain the case for the next nine months due to a continuing oversupply of milk worldwide. He also said that the EU must now intervene directly to support the dairy sector.