Dairy entrepreneur who became cream of the crop
“A lot of other countries will see that agriculture and food is important for Ireland. I think there’s a big opportunity to fly that flag.”
He believes the agri-food sector presents “huge opportunities” for Ireland but says it won’t happen without serious effort. We like to think the whole world knows about Ireland and its green image, but he recalls meeting a Japanese farmer who had no idea where Ireland was. The farmer asked what the leading Irish food brands were but he had never heard of any of them.
“He had heard about U2 and Enya,” he says, “and Baileys and Guinness. That was it. If we could be known across the world for good food, I think it would rise a lot of boats. It should be our aim to be known in Ireland for the best food in the world.”
He believes we don’t highlight the excellence of our food traceability system enough and says we should be able to set up a system which would allow a customer to pick up a piece of Irish beef in the shop and scan it with a mobile phone. This would tell where the meat came from, give details about the farm and provide tourist information about the area.
Asked if a recovery is in sight yet for the Irish economy, he says it all hinges on increasing exports. And he believes the focus should always be on removing obstacles to this trade.
“I think we should ask ourselves, in every process that affects Irish business, is it necessary to do this?”
Government, State agencies and regulatory authorities should be looking at all their policies and regulations and asking themselves if these measures are hindering or growing exports. “And if they are hindering exports, we have to ask why and can we get rid of them?”
These are exciting times for anyone involved in the dairy industry, as farmers look forward to the abolition of the EU milk quota system in 2015. He says there are huge challenges ahead with much volatility in milk prices expected.
“But there’s no doubt, there are huge opportunities there as well.”
His father Ned is now 69, still involved in the business and looking forward to all those opportunities. “He’ll always be involved,” his son says. “That’s what he gets his buzz from.”
CV Edmond Harty
Name: Edmond Harty
Job: Technical director of Dairymaster
Family: Married to Síle. They have two children, Eamonn (5) and Niamh (2)
Lives: Ballyheigue, Co Kerry
Hobbies: Work and family take up most of his time but he occasionally swims.
In the news because: He has been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Most likely to say: We want to make dairy farming more profitable, enjoyable and sustainable for our customers
Least likely to say: I really hate all this techie stuff