Farm families in Longford and Tyrone have been announced as supreme champions of the Lakeland Dairies milk quality awards.
The awards recognise the achievements of Lakeland Dairies milk suppliers who are committed to quality in all aspects of their milk production.
The supreme champion award winners are Eugene and Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Lisryan, Granard, Co Longford, and Cyril Gibson, Beragh, Omagh, Co Tyrone.
The winners emerged from among 3,200 farm families across 16 counties who produce milk for the 1.9bn-litre Lakeland Dairies milk pool.
The Fitzpatricks also took home the >500,000 litre producer category award in the Republic of Ireland, while the Gibsons were winners in the >1m litre producer category in Northern Ireland.
Lakeland Dairies has also announced the winners in the other categories of the milk quality awards.
In the Republic of Ireland, Patrick, Sheila and James Connolly, Ballymahon, Longwood, Co Meath, are winners of the <500,000 litre producer category.
In Northern Ireland, Robert and Mark Bristow, Rasharkin, Co Antrim, won the <1m litre producer category.
New entrant to dairying winners
Recognising the achievements of new entrants to dairying - Lakeland has welcomed over 350 new milk producers to the co-operative in recent years - Sean and Paul Murtagh, Rathconrath, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, were declared winners of the Republic of Ireland new entrant category, while Bernard and Rory McKeever, Kilmore, Co Armagh, won the Northern Ireland new entrant category.
Lakeland Dairies chair Niall Matthews said that dairy farmers are the primary producers of the 1.9bn litres of milk that Lakeland uses as the essential raw material to create its wide variety of dairy products.
“It requires insight and expertise passed from generation to generation, combined with knowledge and application of the best modern-day practices in animal husbandry, grassland management, environmental sustainability and overall farm management.
“The pasture-based milk production model yields a food product that is natural, wholesome and sustainable in all of its qualities. The past year has been very challenging for everyone in society and across all of our local communities.
“We are very proud of the high quality of our milk pool, as exemplified by the winners of the Lakeland Dairies milk quality awards, and I congratulate all our dairy farmers for their achievements and for their excellent ongoing contribution to our farmer-owned dairy co-operative.”
Lakeland Dairies group CEO Michael Hanley said the population of the world, individuals, families and entire nations rely on the quality and integrity of the global food supply chain from farm to fork.
Hanley commented: “This has never more been the case than throughout the course of the pandemic, where maintaining the resilience of domestic and international food supply channels has helped to provide reassurance and stability worldwide.
"The milk producers of Lakeland Dairies have always met this responsibility with great commitment and dedication and I am delighted to pay tribute to their achievements as we recognise our milk quality award winners, north and south.”