Offaly farmers win prestigious Bord Bia award for dairy

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Offaly farmers win prestigious Bord Bia award for dairy

Mairead and Pat picking up their award on Wednesday evening

Mairead and Pat McLoughlin from Rath took home the top award for Small/Medium Herd in the Dairy category at this week’s Bord Bia Origin Green Farmer Awards, held at The Heritage Hotel, Killenard on December 12.

The McLoughlins milk 56 cows currently with plans to increase this number to 66. The couple are new entrants to dairying having taken over from Mairead’s father, Michael Gleeson, in 2014.

The judges found that thanks to their dedication to measuring performance on-farm they have achieved excellent farm sustainability. The importance of animal health and welfare also stood out for the judges.

The McLoughlins were one of 11 category winners as Bord Bia honoured Ireland's most sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly family farms. Over 240 farmers and senior representatives from farming organisations and the agri-food industry gathered to celebrate the achievements of the finalists, drawn from the dairy, beef and horticulture sectors across the country.

In total, 39 finalists competed for the prestigious awards following a rigorous process that included on-farm judging by teams from Bord Bia, Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Journal, UCD and IT Blanchardstown.

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: “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."

This isn’t just a win for 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.”

Presenting the awards Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy paid tribute to the achievements of all the finalists: “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." 

"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."

"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.  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 foundation that we can build durable relationships with food buyers for the food we export.”

All finalists will be invited by Bord Bia to participate in an organised visit to an overseas market to see how the organisation uses their achievements in sustainability to win new business.