Strathroy Dairies has confirmed to AgriLand that the company has applied for membership of the National Dairy Council.

The company’s Cormac Cunningham added that the application had been submitted some weeks ago.

When asked if this step had been taken to allow the Co Tyrone-based dairy processer to pay the NDC levy on milk it supplies to retailers in the Republic of Ireland, he added: “We can’t pay any levy until we are accepted as a bona fidé member of the NDC and a full audit of our business is carried out.

“But I can confirm categorically that we have a vibrant farmer supplier base in the Republic of Ireland. And we can deliver full traceability in this regard.”

When pressed on the issue of the milk supplied by Strathroy being processed in Northern Ireland and, therefore, being non-compliant with the criteria laid down for the current NDC liquid milk campaign, Cunningham commented: “The current NDC liquid milk advertising campaign features the strap line ‘Farmed in the Republic of Ireland’ only.”

“And in this regard, we are totally compliant with the campaign. This was a point we made repeatedly to an Oireachtas Committee some weeks back.

The Strathroy representative continued: “We are an Irish company and we supply Irish milk, yet we cannot carry the NDC logo. In this way it is being disingenuous and misinforming the consumer.

“The NDC mark says ‘farmed in the Republic of Ireland’. What it does not say is that it must be farmed and processed in the Republic.”

“ We source Irish milk from Irish farms all over the Island. We have depots and distribution facilities all over the Island, we employ more than 250 people. But because we process this Irish milk in Omagh, we cannot say the words farmed in the Republic of Ireland.

“I feel that to make any distinction between cows North and South is not only bad for us, but bad for the whole dairy industry on the Island. We can guarantee the quality, the origin, traceability of all our milk and milk products.”

Cunningham concluded: “Our processing facilities have been audited by all the key retailers. They have satisfied themselves beyond any doubt the quality and integrity of the processes we carry out. Yet the NDC will not allow us to carry the mark.”

When contacted on this matter by AgriLand the NDC confirmed that Strathroy had written, requesting NDC membership .

The spokeswoman continued: “All membership applications are discussed at a board meeting. Mr Cunningham was advised of that.”

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