Bord Bia honoured Ireland's most sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly family farms at the Origin Green Farmer Awards in Killenard, Co.Laois, Wednesday 12 December.
There were over 240 farmers and senior representatives from farming organisations and the agri-food industry in attendance on the day to celebrate the achievements of the 39 finalists, drawn from the dairy, beef and horticulture sectors across the country.
Eleven category winners were announced on the night following a rigorous process that included on-farm judging by teams from Bord Bia, Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Journal, UCD and IT Blanchardstown
Small/med herd: Mairead and Pat McLoughlin, Lakeland Co-op, Rath, Co. Offaly.
Reduced carbon footprint: The Crowley Family (Trevor Crowley), Dairygold co-op, Lissarda, Co. Cork.
Large herd: Shane and Dermot O’Loughlin, Glanbia, Oghill, Co. Kildare.
Mushrooms: Reilly Mushrooms, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
Protected crops and fruit: Flynn’s Tomatoes, Bealinstown, Swords, Co. Dublin.
Potatoes: Kilmore Potatoes, Ballyhealy, Kilmore, Co. Wexford.
Field vegetables: John B Dockrell, Screen, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
Suckler to beef: Noel Farrell, Golden, Cashel, Co. Tipperary.
Suckler to weanling/store production: Nicholas Bergin, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.
Weanling/store to beef production: David Auchmuty, Ballygalda, Co. Roscommon.
Dairy calf to beef production: Derek and Gareth Peoples, Carrigans, Co. Donegal.
Opening the awards ceremony Bord Bia's Chairperson Dan MacSweeney highlighted the importance of sustainable food production to the future of Irish farming and rural economies.
“Origin Green can help shape a future that’s better for all of us. The rewards for our success in this regard are potentially huge. In addition to supporting on-farm sustainability efforts, Origin Green supports our marketing and sales efforts, playing a key role in helping us meet the ambitious targets of Food Wise 2025, which see our food and drink exports grow to €19 billion annually by the middle of the next decade.” He said.
“This isn’t just a win for the industry, it translates into more value coming back to the rural economy right across Ireland, as growth in sustainably produced food and drink delivers jobs and activity to local communities now and in the future.” Dan continued.
Presenting the awards on the night was Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, who paid tribute to the achievements of each finalist.
“The pursuit of excellence by Origin Green farmers is at the heart of the Irish food and drink industry’s export success in a challenging, consumer-driven trading environment.” She noted.
“Bord Bia highlights these family farms to food buyers who are looking for living examples of the highest values in Irish food production. When they visit these farms, they see the commitment to protecting the land and its environment for future generations of food producers and consumers.” She added.
The Bord Bia CEO said the finalists had achieved in producing beef with a 40% lower carbon footprint and milk with a 16% reduction in carbon emissions.
“Tonight’s finalists are producing beef with a 40% lower carbon footprint than the average producer and producing milk with a 16% lower carbon impact.” said Tara McCarthy.
“These are the solid proof points that impress international customers who are seeking solutions to their consumers` demands for more sustainably produced food. It is from this solid foundation that we can build durable relationships with food buyers for the food we export.” She concluded.
All finalists will now be invited by Bord Bia to participate in an organised visit to an overseas market to see how Bord Bia uses their achievements in sustainability to win new business.