Strathroy Dairy will be able to source 75% of its liquid milk for the Republic from farmers in the Republic of Ireland from October, the Tyrone-based dairy has said.

And this figure is set to grow beyond 100% by July next year. At the moment some 50% of milk from Strathroy Dairy on supermarket shelves in the Republic of Ireland is coming from farmers in the Republic, it says. However, it says that because of the limitations of the National Dairy Council’s guarantee scheme it can’t carry the NDC logo.

According to Ruairi Cunningham, Director of Strathroy Dairy, it cannot use the NDC ‘farmed in the Republic of Ireland ’ logo, because the milk is processed in Northern Ireland. “It would appear that the NDC approach is less about ‘provenance’ and more about reducing competition and choice.”

He said recent moves to address serious problems in the beef industry here by taking an all-island approach was to the benefit of all farmers on the island. “Using the place a product is produced or processed in Ireland as an excuse to devalue it is simply anticompetitive.”

Strathroy, he said, could be in a position to source 100% of the milk coming into the Republic from Strathroy farmers in the Republic by July next year. “I think when quotas go, if farmers have not signed contracts, the indications I am getting is that there will be a lot of interest in looking at Strathroy.”

When asked about the chance farmers may stop producing liquid milk if the price for manufacturing milk increases, he said: “As Joe Patton pointed out at the liquid milk conference, for some farmers stopping producing liquid milk may be the most profitable option for their farm. However, that a reduction in liquid farmers would lead to a shortage of fresh milk on the shelves is complete nonsense.

“All milk produced in the Republic is of liquid quality and perfectly suitable for the liquid market. The milk we collect in Wexford is for the liquid market and the farmers don’t need liquid contracts. They are very happy with the price and many are interested in expanding with more milk in the winter. That a projected increase in milk production of 50% after quotas go will lead to a ‘liquid milk shortage’ simply isn’t true.”