Dairy co-ops from around the country can nominate their top milk suppliers for the awards, which are designed to identify and reward the country’s top dairy farm.
The judges for this year’s awards are Dr Jack Kennedy, dairy editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Professor Pat Wall form UCD, Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc, along with new judge, Irish chef and food writer Clodagh McKenna.
The judges will initially undertake detailed assessments based on the nomination forms and technical reports spanning a 12-month period in order to select a shortlist of finalists.
Each of the finalist farms will then be visited by the judges for an inspection over the summer months. As well as identifying the top dairy farm, the national judges reserve the option to award specific category awards in sectors which stand out from year to year, such as care for the environment or animal care and welfare.
What stands out?
New addition to the judging panel, Clodagh McKenna said Irish dairy has a superb reputation for quality in global markets: “In Ireland, many of us take it for granted that we have countryside with so many fields of grass – but our green countryside is a tremendous asset because the pasture-based model of dairy farming is a vital ingredient for the success of Irish dairy produce all over the world,” she said.
Judge Dr David Gleeson offered his advice for entrants: “What stands out is dedication to doing things right; a thirst for sharing knowledge and learning about ways to improve how things are done and a heartfelt wish to carry on the tradition of the family farm, passing on the farm as good as, or better than it was before to the next generation.”
Winners in 2016
Last year’s overall winners were Tom and Moya Power, a fifth generation farming family from Drumhills farm in Co Waterford.
“One of the key elements I took from farming alongside my parents is their emphasis on attention to detail in every aspect of farming practices,” said Tom. “Another crucial element to our farm is our helping team. Although my father, Jim, has taken a step back over the years he is still a machine to work with and an encyclopedia of knowledge alongside my mother Breda.”
Nominations must be submitted from co-ops and co-op farm services managers before Friday 26 May 2017 and the winners will be announced in October.