Dairy farmers based in Ardboe, Co. Tyrone, scooped the top milk quality accolades in an awards competition ran by Lakeland Dairies.
Seamus and Gerard Quinn took home the Lakeland Dairies Supreme Milk Quality Award, while also winning the overall Northern Ireland Milk Quality Award.
The Quinns were just two of a number of champion dairy farmers – spread across counties Cavan, Monaghan, Offaly, Westmeath, Down and Tyrone – to be honoured as part of the awards for excellence in milk production.
The winners emerged from over 2,000 milk producers, supplying a total milk pool of 1.2 billion litres, Lakeland Dairies added.
The awards were presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, together with the Chairman of Lakeland Dairies, Alo Duffy, and the Chief Executive of Lakeland Dairies, Michael Hanley.
- Seamus and Gerard Quinn, Ardboe, Co. Tyrone, won the Lakeland Dairies Supreme Milk Quality Award and also won the overall Northern Ireland Milk Quality Award;
- Francis Goodman, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, won the 500,000+ litres milk production category. The runner-up in this category was Nigel Trenier, Belturbet, Co. Cavan;
- Terence McGovern, Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, won the 0-500,000 litres milk production category, closely followed by runner-up Adrian Kelly from Cloghan, Co. Offaly;
- In the category for New Entrants to Dairy Farming, G.D. Young from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, and Raymond, James and Graham Harrison, Hillsborough, Co. Down, jointly won awards for exceptional milk quality;
- The overall Northern Ireland runners-up were Keith and Robin Crawford, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone;
- Joseph and Paul Molloy, Lea more, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, won the inaugural Lakeland Dairies Sustainability Award – for outstanding commitment to sustainable milk production, based on measures including carbon footprint, biodiversity, water management and milk quality results.
According to Minister Creed, these awards encourage excellence in dairy farming.
He said: “The high-quality of our dairy products is one of the Irish food industry’s key selling points. Excellence in dairy farming is difficult to achieve and to sustain on an ongoing basis.
“It requires huge commitment and it places significant demands on dairy producers. The cornerstone for our success on world markets has been and will continue to be the high quality milk which underpins our processing industry.
“I congratulate all the winners and I wish Lakeland Dairies and all of its members continuing success in the future”.
Meanwhile, Duffy claimed that global demand for food will continue to increase over the next thirty years.
As a dairy processor, we need to be able to provide a continuous level of reassurance to our customers about our products.
“We simply couldn’t do that without the commitment of all our producers whose dedication and achievements are strongly exemplified by the winners of our milk quality awards,” he said.
‘Agriculture will be a key engine of economic progress’
Agriculture and dairying will both be key engines of economic progress – both regionally and on an all-island basis – as we continue to grow our food exports in the future, Hanley said.
“Lakeland Dairies is committed to the achievement of dairy industry scale, efficiency and competitiveness – for the long-term benefit of producers and rural communities.
With the strategic investments we have made, we are able to process as much milk as our suppliers can provide.
“We have a strong presence in international markets, exporting nearly 100% of our output, and we have built a name for quality and reliability on a worldwide basis.
“The winners here today understand that requirement. We could not be successful without the total quality commitment of all our producers,” the chief executive concluded.