THE Crowley family from Lissarda took home the top award for Reduced Carbon Footprint in the Dairy category at this week’s Bord Bia Origin Green Farmer Awards, held at The Heritage Hotel, Killenard.
The judges found the Crowleys’ farm to be a prime example of a well-managed, family-run dairy farm. In the period of 2016 to 2017, the Crowleys reduced their carbon footprint per kilogram of milk solids by 18%.
They achieved this through a combination of best practices that included a longer grazing season, a 30% reduction in nitrogen application and reduced manure emissions due to a 17% reduction in housing days.
Their emphasis on biodiversity was also noted, with the family planting new hedges over the years, watercourses fenced off to avoid pollution and a man-made pond installed as an alternative water source.
The Crowleys, who supply the Dairygold Co-Op, 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 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 and former Carbery Group CEO, 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 from Clonakilty, 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.’
West Cork nominees included:
• Noel O’Donovan, a dairy farmer from Clonakility, nominated in the ‘Reduced Carbon Footprint’ category and supplies Barryroe Co-Op.
• Dairy farmer Michael Dullea, from Clonakility, nominated in the ‘Large Herd’ category. He farms with his son Paul and they supply Lisavaird Co-Op.
• Vanessa Kiely O’Connor, a dairy farmer from Innishannon, nominated in the ‘Reduced Carbon Footprint’ category and supplies Bandon Co-Op.
• Dairy farmers Timothy and Shane McCarthy, from Drimoleague, nominated in the ‘Reduced Carbon Footprint’ category. Shane has recently completed agricultural college and is now working full-time on the family farm alongside his father, Timothy.
• Beef farmer, Clive Buttimer, Bandon, nominated in the ‘Weanling Store to Beef’ category at the awards. He has benefitted from years of experience and help from his father, Herbert, on their beef and tillage farm.
Each of the 39 finalists were presented with a certificate signed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed and Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy.
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.