Thirteen of Ireland’s top dairy farms, including four from West Cork, will compete in the finals of the National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. The annual national award programme is the recognised standard for excellence in dairy farming. The achievements of this year’s finalists and winning farm will be celebrated in a campaign using the hashtag #MadeForThis, which will highlight the excellence of Irish dairy farming both at home and abroad.
The thirteen shortlisted farmers, based in nine counties, reached the final following nomination by Co-ops around Ireland. The finalists will be put through an intensive judging process before a winner is announced on October 20.
Zoë Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council explained how both heritage and innovation are at the heart of the perfect dairy farm: “What we have seen year after year, in the finalists and winners in the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards is the marriage of traditional farming techniques, passed through generations, with the application of the best of modern technology and science,” said Ms. Kavanagh. “These dairy farmers excel because they are #MadeForThis farming life. They are the product of generations of craft, but recognise the importance of farming innovation. Combined with their inherent passion, our best dairy farmers are thirsty for knowledge and hungry to improve their farming techniques, to better care for their cows and to produce even higher quality milk.”
Kevin Lane, Ornua CEO explained the importance of the awards in recognising the contribution of dairy farmers in driving standards of excellence in farming:
“The dairy farmers who have been shortlisted are the best of the best. They show a dedication to their craft, which is beyond parallel. They are not only driving the quality of their own farms, but they are also raising the bar for the whole industry. Irish dairy farming is the best in the world, not only because of our natural grass based production system, but also because our farmers, down through generations, generously share their knowledge and continuously improve standards in the industry and in their communities.”
A celebratory campaign, under the heading #MadeForThis, will focus on the importance of heritage and the sense of collective kinship that exists in farm communities. These factors are behind the success of every great farmer and at the heart of what makes Irish dairy the best in the world. The campaign sees the launch of a new website, qualitymilkawards.ie, which will hero each of this year’s finalists by sharing rich and engaging profiles, photography and videos of their farms and lives to showcase how they are #MadeForThis.
Those contending for the top spot will be judged based on inspection of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12-month period; combined with best practice on critical areas such as sustainability, care of the environment, animal health and welfare and overall farm management.
The results of this year’s national awards are due to be announced on October 20, 2015. The overall winning dairy farmer will receive a prize of €5,000 and the coveted National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Award perpetual trophy.
Judging for the national award includes a farm inspection by the expert national judging panel – Professor Patrick Wall, Associate Professor of Public Health at UCD; Dr David Gleeson, Milk Quality Research, Teagasc; and Dr. Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor and Deputy Editor, Irish Farmers Journal.
The 2015 national finalists from West Cork for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are: James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, (representing Lisavaird Co-op); Owen and Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, (representing Bandon Co-op); Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony, Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, (representing Barryroe Co-op); Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, Dunmanus, Goleen, Co. Cork (representing Drinagh Co-op).