Farm families in Co. Longford and Co. Tyrone have been announced as Supreme Champions of the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Awards.

The Milk Quality Awards publicly recognise the achievements of Lakeland Dairies milk suppliers who are committed to quality in all aspects of their milk production.

The winners emerged from among 3,200 farm families across 16 counties who produce milk for the 1.9 billion litre Lakeland Dairies milk pool.

The Supreme Champions of the awards are Eugene and Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Lisryan, Granard, Co. Longford, and Cyril Gibson, Beragh, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, for the exceptionally high quality milk they have produced on their farms throughout the past year.

Eugene Fitzpatrick with his wife Deirdre and children Ruth and Conor.

The Fitzpatricks also took home the >500,000L producer category award in the Republic of Ireland, while the Gibsons are winners in the >1 million litre producer category in Northern Ireland.

Other winners

Lakeland Dairies has also announced the winners in the other categories of the Milk Quality Awards.

In the Republic of Ireland, Patrick, Sheila and James Connolly, Ballymahon, Longwood, Co. Meath are winners of the <500,000L producer category.

In Northern Ireland, Robert and Mark Bristow, Rasharkin, Co. Antrim won the <1 million litre producer category.

Milk Quality Awards – New Entrants

Recognising the achievements of new entrants to dairying, Sean and Paul Murtagh, Rathconrath, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath were declared winners of the Republic of Ireland new entrant category.

Bernard and Rory McKeever, Kilmore, Co. Armagh, won the Northern Ireland new entrant category, for the high quality of their milk supplied to Lakeland Dairies.

Lakeland Dairies chair Niall Matthews paid tribute to the award winners: “Dairy farmers are the primary producers of the 1.9 billion litres of milk that we use as the essential raw material to create the wide variety of dairy products for our customers worldwide.

“It requires insight and expertise passed from generation to generation, combined with knowledge and application of the best modern day practices in animal husbandry, grassland management, environmental sustainability and overall farm management.

“The pasture-based milk production model yields a food product that is natural, wholesome and sustainable in all of its qualities.”

Matthews acknowledged that the past year has been very challenging for everyone in society and across local communities.

Lakeland Dairies Group CEO Michael Hanley said: “The population of the world, individuals, families and entire nations rely on the quality and integrity of the global food supply chain from farm to fork.

“This has never more been the case than throughout the course of the pandemic where maintaining the resilience of domestic and international food supply channels has helped to provide reassurance and stability worldwide.

“The milk producers of Lakeland Dairies have always met this responsibility with great commitment and dedication, and I am delighted to pay tribute to their achievements as we recognise our milk quality award winners, north and south.

“Quality and sustainability are the building blocks of our entire business and this underpins the trust that our customers and consumers place in us,” he added.

“The basis of our ongoing progress and success is found first and foremost within the farm gate, among our 3,200 farm families, and onwards through the facilities we operate, supplying some 240 products to 80 countries worldwide,” he concluded.