Record collections save dairy sector from worst of the storm

Processors handle 'wall of milk' with Glanbia taking in 11m litres on Sunday

Co Monaghan farmer Tommy Wilkin with LacPatrick haulier Stephen McGuirk.
Co Monaghan farmer Tommy Wilkin with LacPatrick haulier Stephen McGuirk.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Record milk collections over the last three days have prevented serious losses on dairy farms, as hauliers battled severe weather conditions to access farmyards.

However, poor road conditions in areas of the east and south-east were continuing to curtail milk collections yesterday.

Processors hailed the "Trojan work" done by hauliers to take in the "wall of milk" which faced them over the weekend.

Both Glanbia and LacPatrick said the use of rigid trucks in the collection drive were crucial, as these vehicles were able to travel roads which were out of bounds for articulated lorries.

Farmers also brought milk to central collection points in some areas where access to farmyards was not possible.

Glanbia collected 11 million litres on Sunday, with its Belview plant dealing with a record intake for the day.

A company spokesman said the effort was a credit to the 24-hour collection service provided by hauliers, and to the work of farmers who cleared roads and boreens for trucks.

The widespread thaw over the last three days has facilitated the return to normal milk collections in most of the south and the west. However, serious problems remain in Wexford, Wicklow and pockets of Carlow, Kildare, Meath, Cavan, North Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.

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Heavy snow drifts had still not thawed or been cleared in some higher areas of the south-east yesterday and many roads remained blocked and farmyards cut off.

A spokesman for Glanbia said it was striving to collect all milk, but would compensate suppliers to the tune of 20c/l where insurance did not cover it and milk could not be collected or was not of an "appropriate processing quality".

"This is not like a weather event in November or December. We have 4,100 farms in milk, tanks are full, and trucks are full after three or four farms," the Glanbia spokesman explained.

Dairygold stated significant progress had been made with hauliers working through the night over the weekend to collect nine million litres. However, challenges remain with road conditions in certain pockets.

Meanwhile, LacPatrick hailed the work of the co-op's hauliers, with collections progressing strongly.

"We are not yet back to normality, however, and some difficult cases remain," said LacPatrick logistics manager Ian Hamilton.

Lakeland Dairies said there had been "monumental efforts" in recent days to keep milk collection going, with farmers working to grit and clear areas, and tow trucks from yards.

A spokesman said they were grateful to staff that kept the plant running.

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