The Macnamara family, from Hospital, Co Limerick, took home the overall prize at the 2023 National Dairy Council (NDC) and Kerrygold quality milk awards on Tuesday.
The Macnamaras were announced as winners of the prestigious awards at a special ceremony held in Ballymaloe House in Co Cork, where a total of 14 farming families from seven counties, representing 14 dairy co-operatives, were acknowledged for excellence in dairy farming and milk production.
Following nomination from their respective co-operative, each finalist participated in an intensive judging process examining a broad range of criteria including environmental management, animal health and welfare, farm infrastructure and hygiene, soil and grassland management and technical performance, among other core indicators.
The Macnamaras were recognised among their peers for demonstrating high standards of excellence across the board and accepted the NDC and Kerrygold quality milk awards perpetual cup for 2023.
The family supplies Kerry Agribusiness.
A total of seven category awards were also presented to families who recorded outstanding performance in environment management, EBI, farm infrastructure, adoption of technologies, grassland management, protein and butter fat content, and low carbon footprint.
Commenting on the awards, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue said: “The NDC and Kerrygold quality milk awards recognise the exceptionally high standards in dairy farming practice that Irish farming families exhibit every day across the country.
"My sincere congratulations go to the 2023 overall winner, the Macnamara family, on their success in reaching the pinnacle of this year’s programme.
“To be recognised by your own co-operative as a nominee is in itself a fantastic achievement, so all of the 14 finalists can be immensely proud of this recognition and I wish them all continued success.”
Ornua chair Aidan O’Driscoll said the dedication that the Macnamaras hold in maintaining world-class standards of dairy farming and milk production is what makes Irish dairy products so revered globally.
“This dedication is clearly shared by all 14 finalists, who represent the qualities of our unique grass-based family farming system and are role models for our industry and their respective communities.
"I would like to thank each of the families for their continued commitment to strengthening the high standards of dairy excellence that these awards proudly celebrate.”
NDC CEO Zoë Kavanagh said this is exactly why Irish dairy is so unique and special - the family farming model that has been practised in Ireland for over 6,000 years and continues to ensure that the Irish dairy is renowned and revered for its high quality at home and abroad.
“We need to continue to celebrate the sustainability of Ireland’s grass-based production system which sets us apart and creates a highly nutritious and affordable product, which will continue to nourish generations to come,” she said.
This year’s judging panel included professor of dairy production in University College Dublin School of Agriculture and Food Science Karina Pierce; professor of public health at University College Dublin Dr Patrick Wall; and Dr David Gleeson of Teagasc.