Importance Of NI Dairy Sector Recognised

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has acknowledged the importance of the growth of a market-led dairy sector to the local economy and rural communities.
calendar icon 27 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The Minister was speaking as she met with representatives from Dairy UK to hear the views of the major dairy processors on the challenges facing them, and other sectors and their vision for the future.

Minister O’Neill said: “External sales of milk products generate more than £600million for the local economy. Milk production provides employment on 3,600 farms and in dairy processing a further 2,400 are employed. I am therefore confident that it has the potential to be a key driver in taking our economy out of recession.

“My meeting today with the leading local milk and dairy product processors was very informative and I agree that the challenges ahead are formidable.”

The Minister continued: “The global demand for dairy products is expected to rise and this presents both a challenge and opportunities for Ireland’s dairy industry as a whole. We have ideal production conditions but need to improve economies of scale at producer and processor level as well as ensuring that the products on offer are what customers are looking for and will provide a good return. Future success can only be based on a market-led approach, not a production led approach.

“Considerable rationalisation has occurred over the last 15 years,” the Minister admitted. “This process is not without pain but further steps in this direction are vital to enable the industry to remain competitive in export markets.”

She added: “DARD will continue to help the industry to improve its competitiveness. We need genuine efficiencies and added value which is sustainable. Research, innovation, increase in skills and economies of scale all have a role to play. We will work together to this end.”

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