Fourteen Irish cheeses honoured at International Cheese Awards
The Irish cheeses accumulated 69 awards between them at the 118th International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, Cheshire, UK.

Some 14 Irish cheeses were honoured at the International Cheese Awards, which took place in the cheese marquee at the Nantwich and South Cheshire Show.

Organisers of the awards said they had their biggest year to date, receiving an all-time high of over 4,600 entries from 274 exhibitors. Representatives from 31 different countries entered the competition.

Irish cheeses won eight trophies, 19 gold medals, 17 silver medals, 17 bronze medals and eight very highly commended awards from the 200 judges.

Mossfield Organic Farm, based in Birr, Co Offaly, was awarded The Waitrose Trophy for ‘‘Best Cheese in Specialist Cheesemakers’’. Other trophies went to Kerry, Glanbia and Carrigaline Cheese.

Reacting to the award, Ralph Haslam of Mossfield Organic Farm, said he was delighted with it, as it was a great boost for the company.

"It's really helps to raise the profile of the business and will allow us to expand our product range even further."

In business since 2004, with a 110 dairy cow herd, Mossfield supplies its products all around the world, including to the UK, Holland, North America and Dubai.

Gold medals were awarded to Glanbia, Kerry, Ornua, Cahill’s Farm Cheese, Old Irish Creamery, Dairygold, Mossfield, Cashel Blue, Green Pastures and Carrigaline, while silver medals went to Glanbia, Kerry, Ornua, Carbery, Mossfield, Dairygold, Carrigaline, Green Pastures and the Tipperary Cheese Co.

Speaking after the awards, Eimear O’Donnell, Bord Bia’s consumer dairy manager, said: “Irish cheese consistently stands up when judged against our overseas counterparts and the industry’s awards haul this year vindicates that and recognises the individual producer’s input. Bord Bia is confident that the Irish dairy sector’s reputation in terms of sustainability, quality and innovation will ensure it succeeds internationally as it realises its potential following the lifting of dairy quotas.”

Export value of Irish cheese

The export value of Irish cheese grew by around 5% to reach over €175m in 2014. The UK accounts for close to 60% of cheese exports, while strong increases were evident to international markets such as Japan, the US and Saudi Arabia. In terms of farmhouse cheese, some 50 cheesemakers now produce more than 150 types of cheese. The sector has continued to experience recent export growth, targeting 25 markets worth approximately €5m.

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Arrabawn holds December milk price
The processor is the most recent to announce that its milk price will be unchanged.

Arrabawn has decided to hold its price for December milk at 30.6c/l excluding VAT.

The price has remained unchanged for several months.

Most co-ops opted to leave milk prices unchanged for December.

Dairygold

Dairygold announced that it will hold their December milk price at 30.36c/l excluding VAT.

The price is inclusive of a 0.5c/l quality bonus based on standard constituents of 3.3% protein and 3.6% butterfat.

The co-op has also held this price for several months.

Lakeland Dairies, Glanbia and Kerry Group held their price at 30.4c/l (excluding VAT) for December milk supplies.

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Aurivo and Carbery set milk prices for December

The farmer's daily wrap: low-cost loans and BDGP map
Check out the latest headlines and get a look ahead at tomorrow's weather forecast.

Weather forecast

A status yellow nationwide snow and ice warning is in place from 7pm Monday 21 January until 9pm the following day.

According to Met Éireann, hill and mountain areas are expected to be the worst affected.

Frost and ice are predicted and temperatures will dip to -1°C, with fresh winds.

In the news

  • Minister Creed has said some 2,511 farmers are yet to pass the approval process for their BDGP payment.
  • Vets have criticised the Department’s level of action in the run-up to Brexit.
  • Grant funding of up to €25,000 is available to farmers participating in GLAS to restore traditional farm buildings and structures.
  • Farmers will have to draw down a minimum of €50,000 to access the next low-cost loan scheme.
  • Social Farming is set to double the number of its farmer participants from 60 to 120, according to its annual report.
    Minimum €50,000 draw-down for low-cost loans
    Farmers will have to draw down a minimum of €50,000 to access the next low-cost loan scheme.

    The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) has confirmed details of the Future Growth Loan Scheme, including that farmers will have to apply for a minimum of €50,000 to avail of the scheme.

    The long-awaited low-cost loan scheme will offer eligible businesses and farmers loans at an interest rate of 4.5% or less.

    The maximum draw down is €3m and the loans are for terms of between eight and 10 years.

    Banks have been invited to apply to distribute the new low-cost loan scheme, with Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank all having previously expressed interest in taking part in the scheme.

    Loans in March

    Up to €300m is available under the scheme, which is being developed in conjunction with the SBCI, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Business.

    Minister for Business Heather Humphreys previously told the Irish Farmers Journal that she hopes to see the loan scheme fully operational by March this year.

    Financial institutions have until 11 February to submit their applications to become lending partners.

    Previous scheme

    Under the previous low-cost loan scheme, the interest rate was set at 2.95%, with loan terms available between 18 months and three years.

    A total fund of €150m was available, with roughly €145m drawn down by farmers. By October last year, some €47.5m had been repaid.

    Read more

    Listen: low-cost loans to land in March

    Where is the low-interest loan fund?