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Cross-border dairy co-operative Lakeland Dairies recently met with Minister for Climate, Environment and Communications Eamon Ryan TD to discuss a range of issues relating to dairy farming and the wider agriculture sector.


The meeting, which took place at Minister Ryan’s Dáil office, saw a Lakeland Dairies delegation led by Chairperson Niall Matthews and Group CEO Colin Kelly.


During the meeting, Minister Ryan was in­formed of the huge efforts being made by Lakeland Dairies farmers to build on the strong sustainability work they have carried out thus far as well as concerns raised over the potential loss of the nitrates derogation.


Speaking after the meeting, Lakeland Dair­ies Chairperson Niall Matthews said:


“We were pleased to meet with Minister Ryan and put forward the views and concerns of the Lakeland Dairies farm families to the Minister and his team. We clearly laid out the concerns our farmers have regarding national climate targets and we also left the Minis­ter in no doubt regarding the steps we are already taking to protect and enhance water quali­ty across our catchment area. We have provided considerable resources to the ASSAP as well as other climate and water quality initiatives – mainly through our farm sustainability programme, Farming for a Better Future.


“Our farmers are rightly concerned regarding recent policy changes and the direction of travel we are going in regarding the dairy industry. There is a huge amount of unease and worry among our suppliers and we wanted to ensure the Minister was acutely aware of these concerns. In particular, we pressed home the absolute necessity of maintaining the nitrates derogation.


“Irish dairying is a hugely sustainable sector, and it is also an economic powerhouse that is the lifeblood of thousands of rural communities across the country. The derogation is a key component of the industry and its loss would be unimaginable, especially in light of the huge work being carried out at farm and processor level to enhance water quality.