The Deputy President of ICMSA has questioned the compatibility of milk imports and the Dairy Quality Assurance (DQA) scheme.

Pat McCormack, who also chairs his organisation’s dairy committee, said Irish farmers are right to believe that the DQA only covers milk produced from cows in the Republic of Ireland. He said a distinction must be made between any milk imported from abroad and processed by Irish processors and the milk produced in the Republic of Ireland.

“The first thing to note is that while no-one is criticising the standard of, say, Welsh milk, we must note the fact that the DQA was originally propounded by Bord Bia as the necessary ‘badge of quality’ that was going to enable Irish milk to add value and gain new market share. ICMSA – and I’d say the vast number of all dairy farmers who’ve signed up for DQA – understood that to mean milk produced on Irish farmers – and only milk produced on Irish farms.

“That means that we’re  going to have to see a distinction made between any milk imported from any part of Britain and processed by our co-ops and the milk produced by our own milk suppliers because it completely defeats the whole point of the DQA if any degree of confusion about origin or labelling is allowed to creep in here, and it’s something that Bord Bia is going to have to look at very carefully – and very quickly – as the roll-out of the Dairy Quality Assurance Scheme proceeds,” said Mr McCormack.

Meanwhile, the National Dairy Council has re-affirmed to Agriland that it strictly monitors and controls the trade mark and to ensure conformance to the rules and regulations of the Licence Agreement.

In essence, the NDC Monitoring Committee reviews and assesses licence applications on the one hand; but also oversees functions such as independent audits of processing plants in the context of the licence criteria. All licensees are subject to audit and the conditions pertaining to the undertaking of this audit are laid out in the terms and conditions of the licence agreement.

Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive, National Dairy Council added: “The NDC Guarantee on pack allows consumers in the Republic of Ireland to make choices based on being informed about the source of the milk and cream they are buying. The NDC Guarantee was introduced following consumer research which told us that 81% of consumers said they believed it would be good to see a label which showed where milk has been farmed.”