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Lakeland Dairies will host a major information and education event on the importance of protecting and enhancing water quality next month.

The event, which is set for 10th May at 1pm, will take place on the farm of award-winning Lakeland Dairies supplier Eugene Fitzpatrick. Attendees will see first-hand the huge steps farmers in derogation like Eugene are taking to protect water quality. The enormous importance of the entire dairy industry in driving a balanced regional economy will also be highlighted at the event.

The event is titled Farming for a Better Future: Protecting Our Waters and will have speakers including experts from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Water Quality division, Eddie Burgess from Teagasc’s Agricultura Catchment Programme, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer with Teagasc Dr Joe Patton as well as senior Lakeland Dairies staff. Political figures including those running for local and European elections are being strongly encouraged to attend.

Eugene and the Fitzpatrick family, who previously won the Lakeland Dairies Milk Quality Award and also represented the co-op at the Kerrygold / NDC Quality Milk Awards, are excellent hosts for the event given their continued commitment to improving water quality on their own farm.

Eugene is a derogation farmer and has a highly progressive approach towards slurry management and nitrogen efficiency. Eugene applies all his slurry using a dribble bar and some 80% of slurry is applied in spring. Eugene, through excellent grassland management, has seen his grazing season extended in recent years.

As well as regularly soil sampling the farm, Eugene also uses protected urea. He used sexed semen on his heifers and he has seen his EBI increase also.

Commenting on the event, Lakeland Dairies Chairperson Niall Matthews said.

“The entire foundation of our world-class dairy industry is the protecting and enhancing of our water quality.  As a co-op and as an industry, we are constantly striving to make improvements to our water quality, which is already good by EU standards.

“We thank Eugene, Deirdre and their two children Ruth and Conor for opening their farm to us on 10th May. It’s critically important that farmers, political figures and any other relevant stakeholders attend on the day to understand the huge steps Lakeland Dairies farmers like Eugene are taking to continually improve water quality.

“The importance of the derogation cannot be underestimated. The derogation allows Ireland to maximise our truly unique grass-based system. This needs to be recognised and protected. Therefore, we are calling on all political figures nationally and locally to attend this critical meeting to see first-hand how dairying is breathing life in rural communities in every county in the country.”