Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has called on the Ministers of Agriculture and Enterprise to work together to expand the export markets for the local diary industry.
The Ulster Unionist made her call after meeting with Dr Mike Johnston the Northern Ireland Director of Dairy UK at Parliament Buildings Stormont.
The Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson said: “Dr Johnston updated me on the present situation of the Dairy Industry in Northern Ireland and presented a vision for the future direction of local dairy farmers and producers.
“Greater efficiencies and competitiveness are key to the future prosperity of the industry. Expanding existing and tapping into new export markets is one of the major challenges which Dairy UK would like to see Government tackling head on. One major way in which they could do so is by securing 'Most Favoured Nation' status across international markets for Northern Ireland Milk products.
“With the impending end of Milk Quotas in 2015 we must ensure that we have a strong network of export markets available to ensure a smooth flow of local milk products. As old markets dry up, we need to explore new and potentially lucrative opportunities and in so doing secure the future of our local industry.
“The fact that demand for dairy products is growing by 2% every year is clear.” said the Upper Bann MLA “The industry must be prepared to face the challenges of the future and as I believe that capital grant schemes can achieve this.
“I have previously highlighted the considerable financial support provided by the Scottish Executive to their dairy industry, which is smaller than the Northern Ireland’s however I am concerned that without dedicated support our local industry could be placed at a competitive disadvantage.
“We need to ensure that young farmers, the future of our industry, are encouraged to remain and return to farming and through modernisation I believe that we can improve upon our efficiency and competitiveness and ensure that Northern Ireland Milk remains buoyant on local as well as international markets.”