The McCarthy family from Feenagh are finalists
A COUNTY Limerick family who say dairying is "their life and their passion" are in the running for the "Oscars of the Dairy World".
Ornua and the National Dairy Council have announced 12 farming families, from eight counties, representing 12 dairy co-ops nationwide, have reached the finals of the 2021 NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards. The awards recognise, and celebrate, the highest standards of excellence in dairy farming with a focus on milk quality, animal welfare and sustainable farming practices.
Limerick is very well represented by the McCarthys from Feenagh. Michael and Alex McCarthy have been farming together for the past four years.
Michael, a fifth-generation farmer, began helping his father out on the family farm almost 46 years ago. They live on the farm with Michael’s wife, Mary Ita, and Alex’s family, wife Siobhan and daughter Chloe.
Since Alex’s return to the farm four years ago, the father and son duo expanded their land to enable further growth, and subsequently increased their herd size. Made for the outdoors, Michael considers himself a lucky man - dairying has been one of the loves of his life, and himself and Mary Ita are most happy when farming, gardening or spending time with their granddaughter.
Nominated by Kerry Agribusiness, the McCarthys will find out if they are cream of the crop when the overall winner is announced at a special outdoor awards ceremony at Moorepark Dairy Open Day on September 15.
Every year, the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards showcase and celebrate the dedication of Irish family farms to producing the best quality milk in the world, and their commitment to the highest standards of hygiene, food safety, animal health, and environmental protection.
The nominated farm families are role models whose commitment inspires others and previous winners have provided a standard that has helped farms across the country adopt new and more sustainable ways of farming.
The theme of this year’s event centres around "Irish Dairying: Delivering Sustainably" and offers an ideal platform to celebrate farms that are industry leaders in sustainable food production.
Commenting on the awards, CEO John Jordan at Ornua said: "Ireland’s food and drink sector has won its place on the world stage due to the quality of our produce and our focus on sustainable production.
"Maintaining this competitive advantage has never been more important, as our unique Irish grass-fed, family-farmed system is valued by consumers at home and abroad. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are a great way of celebrating and recognising Ireland’s high calibre dairy farmers and superior on-farm practices that are being adopted throughout the country."
The judging panel for this year’s awards included Dr Jack Kennedy, Dairy Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Professor Pat Wall from UCD and, Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc.
Professor Wall said: "Every year, entrants to the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards impress the judges with high calibre production practices and commitment to sustainable farming. Each finalist was put through intense scrutiny, including a thorough analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning 12 months.
"The judging process also included an inspection on farm to gain insights into areas such as animal welfare and sustainability. All finalists clearly demonstrated excellent standards in all facets of food production and are true ambassadors for Irish dairy."
Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the National Dairy Council said: "The landscape that we’re living in is changing. Now, more than ever, consumers are demanding natural sustainably produced food – transparency and authenticity are now more important than ever.
"Irish dairy has one of the lowest carbon footprints internationally, primarily due to the unique grass-fed, family based Irish farming system which is extremely efficient and involves less intensive farming. It is in all our interests to continue to nurture that approach and support future generations to farm with excellence."
The overall winner of the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards will be announced at a small, outdoor awards ceremony at Moorepark Dairy Open Day on Wednesday, September 15.
To facilitate those that cannot attend due to governmental guidelines, the event will be live streamed from 9am until 10am and those interested can register by clicking here.
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