Enda Kenny has described 2015 as “the year of rural recovery for Ireland” because of the imminent removal of the “straitjacket” of milk quotas and the development of initiatives such as a major new dairy processing plant officially opened yesterday by Glanbia Ingredients.
The plant at Belview Port in south Kilkenny is part of a €235m investment by Glanbia and designed to capitalise on the imminent ending of EU milk quotas.
It will see milk from the region being developed into infant milk power products and nutritional ingredients for the export market.
About 70 jobs are being generated by the new state-of-the-art processing plant while Glanbia say up to 1,600 indirect jobs will also be created as a result of the investment, among local businesses and suppliers.
Several dozen anti-water charge protesters picketed and jeered at the entrance to the Glanbia compound in Belview, close to Waterford city, while the event was patrolled by a significant garda presence as well as private security staff.
Mr Kenny said during the official ceremony that it was a significant day for the country’s dairy sector and also rural Ireland.
“For those who try to do it down, this is the start of a real fightback and future for our country and our rural areas,” he said. “This year will be the year of rural recovery for Ireland.”
Glanbia officially launced its new Nutritional Ingredients plant at Belview Co. Kilkenny.
He looked forward to the removal of milk quotas on March 31. “It’s actually hard to believe it’s 30 years since this straitjacket of restriction was introduced and I for one welcome its abolition and the new jobs and investment opportunities that’s going to create.”
The Taoiseach said the Glanbia facility will allow Ireland to maximise the potential of the end of milk quotas and expand its agricultural exports. “The reputation of Ireland as a food island is growing rapidly, in a global sense,” he said, adding there is a thirst in markets like China for our dairy products and a hunger for premium beef.
The opening of new markets to Irish beef and the abolition of milk quotas “will usher in a new era of sustained and prolonged growth for Irish agriculture.”
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney described the Belview project as “the largest indigenous infrastructure investment by an Irish company in 80 years” and said it is a sign of confidence in the future of Ireland’s dairy sector.
Glanbia has 4,800 milk suppliers across Munster and Leinster. The company says they are expected to increase milk production by 2020, following the abolition of milk quotas on March 31.
Siobhán Talbot, Glanbia Group MD, said the Belview facility will be “a flagship within the Glanbia over-arching global ambition” for the coming years. “Glanbia today is very much a growing and global organisation.”
Glanbia chairman Liam Herlihy said, with only 23 days to go to quota abolition, “today realises an ambition of the Glanbia organisation as it ushers in a new era of post-quota milk production growth. I have absolutely no doubts, with the growth opportunities that exist, today is just the start of a building block where further investments and capabilities will be added on in the years ahead.”
EU commissioner Phil Hogan said, after more than 30 years of quota restrictions, “our dairying potential is ready to be realised”.
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