Four Irish co-operatives are among 18 finalists shortlisted in the European Awards for Co-operative Innovation.

The Irish organisations shortlisted are Dairygold, FRS Network, Glanbia and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes.

Organised every three years by COGECA, the European Association of Agri-Cooperatives, the theme of this year’s award is focused on sustainability-driven innovation.


Dairygold is shortlisted for its sustainability bonus payment, in the ‘Economic Value Creation – Support to Farmer Members’ category.

The focus of this initiative is improving herd health and increasing herd productivity through the promotion and facilitation of milk recording among farmers and encouraging their participation in a herd health programme.

FRS Network is a finalist for its member benefit scheme, in the ‘Social Value Creation’ category.

The scheme offers subsidised skilled labour in the event of an accident or sickness of the main family farm operator, providing protection to ensure that their business can continue to operate effectively in any such event.

Glanbia has been shortlisted for its Twenty20 Beef Club, again in the ‘Economic Value Creation – Support to Farmer Members’ category.

This is an innovative model of dairy calf-to-beef production, which combines a guaranteed market and premium pricing, with a technical support programme and advanced payment options to assist farmers with cash flow.

The project involves the examination of water quality and impacting factors

The National Federation of Group Water Schemes, was named as a finalist for their source protection pilot project, in the category of ‘Environment Value Creation – Natural Resources and Biodiversity’.

The project involves the examination of water quality and impacting factors. It works with farmers and the wider public to raise awareness of source protection and the impact of pesticides both on water and biodiversity.

Flagship awards

The winners will be selected by a panel including European Parliament agriculture committee chairman Norbert Lins and European Commission Directorate for Agriculture and Rural Development deputy director general Maria Angeles Benitez Salas and will be announced in early summer.

President of ICOS Jerry Long said: “Innovative strategies and programmes help to foster sustainability and viability which is essential in dealing with the challenges and opportunities facing co-operatives today and into the future.

“To have four Irish co-operatives shortlisted for these flagship awards, among the top co-operatives from across Europe, highlights the quality of Irish co-operative innovation and delivery in the interests of their members.”