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YESTERDAY’S opening of the Glanbia Ingredients Ireland’s €235m dairy facility in Belview, Co Kilkenny, is as resounding a vote of confidence in this society and economy as has been seen in decades.
That it was made by an Irish company to support one of the backbone sectors of our economy just makes that achievement all the more commendable.
The development is the largest single infrastructure investment in Ireland by an indigenous company for more than 80 years and is the largest infrastructure spend by an Irish-owned company since the construction of the ESB’s hydro scheme at Ardnacrusha on the Shannon in 1929.
It is expected the plant will contribute something in the region of €400m a year to the economy. The plant is designed to facilitate an expected 63% increase in milk production by Glanbia’s 4,800 farmer suppliers when EU milk quotas are lifted at the end of this month. Glanbia already processes 1.8bn litres of milk, or 30% of the total milk pool.
The great potential in this development is reflected in the fact that almost 25% of all money lent in Ireland last year was lent to farmers.
The pace of change is spectacular too. In the four years it took to get the Belview project from the drawing board to yesterday’s reality New Zealand increased its milk pool by almost 3.5bn litres, or the equivalent of 65% of Ireland’s output.
Rural Ireland has had more than enough bad news and hopefully this great project will help turn the tide.
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