ULSTER Unionist representatives recently visited Dale Farm’s Dunmanbridge factory at Cookstown.
Mid-Ulster MLA and Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson Sandra Overend was accompanied by Ulster Unionist Agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA and Jim Nicholson MEP.
The representatives met with United Chairman, John Dunlop; Vice Chairman, William Hanna; Group Chief Executive, David Dobbin and Factory Manager, Chris McAlinden to discuss the on-going investment in the site plus wider issues affecting agriculture and the economy and to tour the plant.
Speaking after the visit Sandra Overend said: “The Dunman factory is already the largest single cheese plant in the British Isles and as a local representative it is good to see first-hand the investment to increase capacity further at the site. This work will mean that Dale Farm can double the plant’s cheese processing capacity from four to eight tonnes per hour and increase its whey processing capacity to meet growing world demand. This is positive news for the local area and the wider Northern Ireland economy.”
Jim Nicholson and Jo-Anne Dobson also raised the pressures being felt by farmers as a result of extreme weather and rising input costs plus the need for improved access to bank credit for the industry with Jo-Anne saying: “The agri-food sector is hugely important to the local economy, growing and creating jobs in spite of the downturn hitting other sectors, Dale Farm’s plans are further evidence of this and I hope that the business’s continued growth also benefits dairy farmers. Primary producers in all sectors are a key link in the food supply chain and they have been under extreme pressure in recent months.”
Sandra Overend concluded by adding: “As the Ulster Unionist Party’s economy spokesperson it was also great to discuss wider issues affecting local businesses such as the impact on firms of rising energy costs and unnecessary bureaucracy plus the increasingly globalised nature of markets. I want to thank the team at Dunman for taking the time to give us an insight into their business and wish them well for the continued development of the site.”