West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Mc Aleer calls for 'fair play' for dairy producers

Published: 24 September, 2013

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has called for dairy producers in the north to be treated on an equal basis as their counterparts in the south. Mr Mc Aleer was speaking after raising the matter of food labelling with the Enterprise & Trade Minister, Arlene Foster during question time in the Assembly on Tuesday.

According to Mr Mc Aleer 'The National Diary Council (NDC) collects a levy from dairy farmers which is used to promote their produce. One of the means by which this is achieved is through the inclusion of a NDC label on products.

'However, one of the frustrating anomalies for companies in the 6 counties who operate across the island is that the NDC label cannot be affixed if processing happens in the north and this is having a detrimental impact on the industry.

'For example, Minister Foster revealed that Dale Farm recently lost a substantial contract in Superquinn because it could not display the mark. I am personally aware of companies like Strathroy Diary who collect milk from farmers in Tyrone, Derry and Donegal and employ many people throughout Ireland but cannot use the NDC label.

'Such processors strongly feel that not being permitted to use the label inhibits their ability to trade across the island placing them at a serious disadvantage to other processors.

'I am glad that the Minister is taking this matter very seriously and has raised it with her Ministerial counterparts in Leinster House as well as the Agricultural Trust, the Irish Competition Authority, representatives from the food processing sector and the Irish Farmers' Association.

'In response to my question about raising the issue at a NSMC meeting, the Minister revealed that she discussed the matter on the fringe of a North-South Ministerial Council meeting and that she would meet whoever she needed to meet given the detrimental impact that the campaign is having on us.

Mr Mc Aleer concluded 'I have also written to the Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland to ask for their intervention and I have discussed the subject with DARD Minister Michelle O Neill. All that producers in the north are asking for is fair play and the right to be treated on the same trading basis as their counterparts in other parts of the country'.