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Lakeland Dairies met with Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Andrew Muir MLA where the co-op pressed a range of issues relating to farmers in Northern Ireland.

The meeting took place on the Lakeland Dairies stand at the Balmoral Show and involved Lakeland Dairies Chairperson Niall Matthew, Group CEO Colin Kelly and Board Director Alan Thompson.

The Lakeland Dairies contingent sought clarity from Minister Muir on issues such as carbon emissions target, ammonia challenges and his vision for the sector as well as planning issues and TB incidence rates in Northern Ireland (NI). Minister Muir was joined by DAERA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Brian Dooher.

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Speaking after the meeting, Niall Matthews said:

“We were pleased to meet with Minister Muir for the first time and engage with him on a range of issues that our suppliers in Northern Ireland have concerns over. The biggest uncertainty for our farmers is the whole area of carbon reduction targets. We impressed upon Minister Muir that there is a vacuum at present with farmers unable to plan in any way, shape or form for the future without clear targets.  We are pleased that Minister Muir confirmed to Lakeland Dairies that he anticipates that targets will be set in the autumn of 2024.

“We also spoke about how farmers are very much geared up to play their part in reducing emissions and protecting water quality but, again, a clearly defined strategy is required. Minister Muir shared our concerns over the pace of the planning process and he committed to seeing this improve. Finally, we both agreed that a new perspective and way of thinking is required to reduce TB incidence rates which are at a worrying level in NI.

“We again thank Minister Muir for his time and we look forward to continuing to work together to improve the lives of our farm families and suppliers but farmers are desperate for clarity.”