A GROUP of Transition Year students from Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty have progressed to the third stage of the prestigious Certified Irish Angus Beef Competition.
Certified Irish Angus, ABP and Kepak, run the competition which aims to encourage second-level students to gain an understanding about the care and attention that is required to produce and market the highest quality Irish Angus beef for consumers.
The initiative challenges groups of students to rear five certified Irish Angus calves for 18 months and carry out research on a chosen topic.
Saoirse Whelton, Aine White, Sinead Walsh and Ríona Collins are one of 42 groups that have been selected to exhibit project ideas at the next stage of the competition to a panel of agri-food industry experts in Croke Park on March 31st.
The five schools who demonstrate the best understanding of the project will be announced as finalists and will be presented with their calves at the National Ploughing Championships in September.
A record number of over 170 school groups entered this year’s competition and Sacred Heart’s was one of 72 to be called to the interview stage in Athlone/Limerick in January.
‘We created a project to help raise consumer awareness about sustainable beef. Public opinion on beef farming is often a negative one due to concerns about the impact beef farming has on the environment. However, our group is looking to present the bigger picture and show people that beef farming can be sustainable,’ said Saoirse.
‘Our school group created a three minute entry video based on the chosen topic of sustainability and the three pillars; social, economic and environmental.
‘We are just over the moon to have made it this far in the competition and have this opportunity to break the bias surrounding beef farming through educating the consumer.’
The students believe that education and promotion is key to the future success of sustainable beef farming. They believe that through farmers signing up to the Teagasc Water Catchment Programme or using GPS fertiliser spreaders there is a brighter future for both Irish Angus certified beef and the farmer that produces it.
Sinead added: ‘Through this project we will break the bias towards beef farming and the consumer can enjoy this produce knowing it went from farm to plate in an ecological way.’