The turning of the sod on the new joint venture between Glanbia Co-op and Royal A-ware serves as a useful juncture to acknowledge the success of our dairy sector. The development of Kilkenny Cheese Ltd has faced many hurdles with farmer suppliers feeling the direct impact in the form of peak milk supply penalties.

While we can continue to challenge on such issues, it is important to acknowledge the determination of the board and management of Glanbia Co-op and the steadfast support of Royal A-ware in ensuring this €200m investment was not derailed. More broadly, the extent to which a multimillion euro investment in processing capacity has allowed Glanbia farmers to optimise the profitability of their land base should be celebrated.

At the turning of the sod on Glanbia Co-op and A-ware’s €200m continental cheese facility at Belview County Kilkenny were: John Murphy, chair, Glanbia Co-op; Jan Anker, CEO, Royal A-ware; Jim Bergin, CEO, Glanbia Co-op; Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue; and Alexa Toomey, Enterprise Ireland. / Patrick Browne

Countrywide success

It is a similar picture across the country. Albeit on a different scale, the investment in processing in co-ops such as Aurivo has equally delivered for farmers in the west of Ireland.

There is no doubt the co-operative model in the context of dairy processing and route to market has proved its strength. For a sector to grow output by over 50% while enhancing the economic viability of the primary producer is a huge achievement. While not ignoring the challenges associated with expansion, it is imperative that future policy does not undermine the economic viability of what is a globally competitive dairy industry.

As Aidan Brennan reports in this week's edition, potential changes to the nitrates derogation present an immediate risk.