Longford farmers in Grassland final

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Grassland Farmer of the Year

Des Beirne, Newtownforbes, a finalist in the Grassland Farmer of the Year Award is pictured in Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy

Beef and dairy farmers from Longford were among the finalists in the The Grassland Farmer of the Year competition.

Michael & Mike Magan, Killashee were shortlisted in the dairy category, while Frank & Des Bernie, Newtownforbes were among the beef finalists.

Unfortunately, the Longford standard bearers didn’t figure among the award winners, but nonetheless it was a fantastic achievement to feature at this stage of the competition which recognises farmers who are achieving high levels of grass utilisation in a sustainable manner.

Fourteen farmer finalists, who emerged from over 100 applications, gathered in Teagasc Moorepark on Friday last for the awards ceremony.

The first overall winner of the Grassland Farmer of the Year Award was Eddie O’Donnell from Golden, Cashel, Co Tipperary.

The Grassland Farmer of the Year Awards is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and it is one of the major initiatives as part of ‘2017 Year of Sustainable Grassland production’.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD said: “For the finalists, these awards represent the culmination of their efforts and an acknowledgement of their endeavour, skill and excellence in the area of grassland management.

"I believe that this competition will provide more focus and exposure of how to succeed at grassland to the wider livestock industry.

“Grass based production systems are at the heart of our efficient dairy, beef and sheep sectors, and recognised and valued by our international customers as a sustainable system.

"I experience this all the time on our trade missions abroad. Ireland has the unique selling point of being a grazing nation and we must continue to inform Europe and the world of this advantage.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank the judging panel, Teagasc and my own Department for their work in putting this competition together.”

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “Teagasc research indicates that grass utilisation can be increased significantly on farm.

"This competition, with an overall prize fund of €30,000, kindly funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, brings together and recognises the top 14 farmers in the country who are utilising best practice and the latest research on their farms.

"Teagasc has developed a world leading grassland web based grassland system in PastureBase Ireland, which has now more than 4,500 users. We must now increase the usage of the system further to help farmers grow and utilise more grazed grass.”

Award Winners
* Gerard Dineen, Kilnamartyra, Macroom, Co Cork - Beef enterprise award
* Peadar Kearney, Tallanstown, Dundalk, Co Louth - Sheep enterprise award
* Eddie O’Donnell, Golden, Cashel, Co Tipperary - Dairy enterprise award
* The Heffernan Family, Caherleske, Dunnamaggin, Co. Kilkenny - Leinster region
* Francis Clune, Newgrove, Tulla, Co. Clare - Munster region
* Jimmy & Edward Payne, Ballymoe, Castlerea, Co Roscommon - Connaught / Ulster region
* Tim Crowley, Clancoolbeg, Bandon, Co. Cork - Young Grassland Farmer of the Year