West Cork farming couple wins Bord Bia Sustainable Farming Award

Posted on: 8th November, 2016

Category: Farming

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: At Bord Bia's Origin Green Sustainable Producer Awards ceremony in Portlaoise was Dairy award winner John Joe and Theresa O'Sullivan, Rosscarbery and Aidan Cotter, CEO Bord Bia.

John Joe and Theresa O’Sullivan, dairy farmers from Rosscarbery, have been named among Ireland’s ‘greenest’ farmers at Bord Bia’s inaugural Origin Green Sustainable Producer Awards, which took place on Friday night, October 21. Along with seven other beef and dairy producers, the O’Sullivans’ dairy farm was chosen as one of the most sustainable, efficient and environmentally-friendly farms in the country, following a ceremony in Portlaoise attended by over 230 farmers and senior representatives from the farming and agri-food industry. Nominated in the ‘Small/Medium Herd’ category, the O’Sullivans milk 70 cows on 45 hectares with cows grazing over 300 days a year every year. Supplying the Lisavaird Co-Op, the farm has been recognised for biodiversity, and features a habitat, some woodland, an ancient fort and an orchard where John Joe practices beekeeping.

A total of 28 farms from across the country were selected as finalists for the competition, from which eight producers were awarded as winners of their particular category. As part of its Quality Assurance Scheme, Bord Bia conduct audits and carbon assessments each year on almost 60,000 beef and dairy farms. According to Bord Bia, the winning, and shortlisted entries, are among the top performing beef and dairy farms in the country particularly with regard to their carbon footprint, biodiversity and water management.

Opening the awards Bord Bia’s CEO, Aidan Cotter, commented “tonight we celebrate Irish farmers as champions of sustainable, quality assured and world class food production. Each of the 28 finalists is here on the strength, firstly, of the outstanding scores they achieved in their farm audits and, secondly, the truly impressive commitment they have shown to sustainability in their farming activities. That sense of leadership is what will help us win in the marketplace, is what brings us here tonight and makes this an opportune time to celebrate what is best in Irish farming.”

According to the judges John Joe and Theresa O’Sullivan’s dairy farm in Rosscarbery Co. Cork, supplying Lisavaird Co-op, is a hive of productivity. They milk 70 cows on 45 hectares, with cows grazing over 300 days a year every year. Biodiversity was noted to be a key feature on this excellent dairy farm with a habitat, some woodland, an ancient fort and an orchard where John Joe practices his hobby of beekeeping.

Origin Green is a unique sustainability development programme developed by Bord Bia to internationally demonstrate the commitment of the entire Irish food and drink industry to operating sustainably – in terms of greenhouse gas emission, energy conservation, water management, biodiversity, community initiatives and health and nutrition. Since 2011, more than 527 Irish companies, representing 90 per cent of Irish exports have signed up, while at farm level, Bord Bia has conducted in excess of over 120,000 carbon assessments to measure and help improve the environmental performance of Irish farms.

A total of nine farm enterprises – including this year’s overall winners John Joe and Theresa O’Sullivan’s farm in Rosscarbery – were nominated from County Cork.

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