€117m upgrade at Dairygold
Friday last was a red letter day in the Dairygold calendar - a day that saw Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny perform the official opening of Dairygold’s €33.5 million upgrade of it’s Castlefarm dairy processing complex in Mitchelstown, having earlier in the day, laid the foundation stone for Dairygold’s €83.5 million regeneration of the milk processing site in Mallow. Combined, both sites will create 115 long-term jobs in North Cork, as well as 400 temporary construction jobs.
Also in attendance were Minister of Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD who, along with the many invited guests, were hugely impressed with the ultra-modern facilities at the plant.
As part of the upgrade in Mitchelstown, Kerrygold butter will be exclusively produced and packed on Dairygold’s Mitchelstown site in the coming years. It is hoped the new Kerrygold manufacturing plant will be up and running by 2016.
Dairygold’s Chief Executive, Jim Wolfe said the investments at both sites will give the co-op the processing capacity it needs ahead of the next year’s abolition of EU milk quota restrictions, when farmers will be free to produce as much milk as they wish.
The new upgrades at the Mitchelstown plant mean it can now process 1.3 million litres of milk a day, which equates to 9 million litres per week.
Speaking at the well-attended event in Mitchelstown, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Dairygold is ‘very well placed’ to impress on the post milk quota era.
“You don’t commit €117 million euros of investment over six years if you don’t have confidence in the sector. This sector has had to operate within the constraints of the quota regime and now that door is wide open next year, Dairygold is very well placed to impress on that era.
“Dairygold is to be complimented for over 1,000 employees, 8,800 members, 3,000 producers, supplying over 20 per cent of Ireland’s milk. This morning is a massive vote of confidence.”
He described as a ‘statement of exceptional significance’ the fact that every block of butter that goes around the world with the Kerrygold brand will come from Mitchelstown.
Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney echoed the Taoiseach’s enthusiasm for the post milk quota era, and said that since the mid 1980’s Ireland ‘has been essentially in a straighjacket in terms on not being allowed to expand’.
“If ever people needed proof that it will be rural Ireland as much as urban Ireland who will contribute to a new sustainable, growing economy, I think today shows that. €117 million euros of investment by a wholly farmer-owned co-operative to invest in the infrastructure that they need to deliver on the future of dairy production,” Minister Coveney told the Mitchelstown crowd.
He added: “As a Minister for Agriculture from Cork, it gives me huge pride to see the level of ambition and standards being set in here through lean manufacturing and management systems, to the drive and enthusiasm that people like Jim Wolfe have at the very top, but that translates right down through the organisation of Dairygold in terms of your suppliers, your members, your employees and so on.”
In attendance at the event on Friday was local councillor and former Dairygold employee, Frank O’Flynn, who told The Avondhu that this is 'exciting times for the dairy industry'.
“As we approach post quota era on April, 1 next year, Dairygold farmers have indicated as much as a six per cent increase in milk output. This is great news for North Cork and Mitchelstown, and I have no doubt that these Dairygold plans will create much needed employment.
“Going forward it’s a vote of confidence in the dairy industry, and I want to congratulate Dairygold in their forward planning and putting these state-of-the-art facilities in place,” Cllr O’Flynn told the Avondhu.
Also speaking after the event, councillor Kevin O’Keeffe welcomed 'the big investment that Dairygold have put into the future of farming in North Cork’.
“It’s been acknowledged by the present government that we’re going through a trying and testing time and now demanding an increase in milk output must be welcomed. Hopefully they have their figures done and are capable of the challenge, hopefully prices would be maintained at a reasonable rate for the price of milk. It was a well organised event, and I must compliment Dairygold on this.”
Thursday 25th September 6:12pm