“It’s a good time to be a dairy farmer.” That’s how Lakeland Dairies’ CEO Michael Hanley described the prospects for milk production in Ireland, courtesy of a conversation with AgriLand earlier today.

He added: “I am aware that prices wobbled a bit at last week’s Fonterra auction. But don’t forget that world dairy markets are currently at record high levels and we can’t expect prices to continue surging forward inexorably.

“However, the long-term prospects for milk remain extremely healthy. And I firmly believe that farmers will continue to receive sustainable prices for their milk well in to the future.”

Hanley went on to point out that Lakeland continues to invest across all its processing sites.

“Our core aim remains that of paying Lakeland farmer suppliers the best possible price. At the present time, we do not have a sufficiently large milk pool to meet customer demand. So yes, we are seeking to expand our supply base. And this includes Northern Ireland,” he further explained.

“Our key focus is to ensure that we have the processing facilities that will be required to deal with the extra milk that will become available, once quotas are abolished in just over a year’s time. But again, Lakeland views these developments as being extremely positive as we have long term supply contracts with all of our main customers. What’s more, the scope of these supply agreements will expand significantly over the coming years.

“There is little doubt that our existing farm supplier base will increase output once quotas go. And there is every prospect that new entrants will add significantly to the available milk pool post 2015.”

Turning to the issue of superlevy, Hanley told AgriLand that Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney must do everything possible to ensure a soft landing for the current quota regime.

“To go from an all-on to an all-off situation without any transition is just putting extra pressure on dairy farmers,” he stressed.

“We need a soft landing to the current quota regime and if Minister Coveney can secure this by getting Brussels to agree a re-alignment of out butterfat threshold, so much the better.”