Cream of the dairy crop: Judge praises family farm system

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

THE KNOWLEDGE, expertise and standards built up by the family farm system in Ireland is greatly underestimated, UCD’s associate public health professor Patrick Wall said yesterday. He said large farms in jurisdictions such as the US were owned by investors who never set foot on them.

Prof Wall was speaking at the announcement of the winners of the quality milk awards programme run by the National Dairy Council and Kerrygold.

There are almost 18,000 dairy farms in the State and family farms dominated the winners’ list in this competition.

As a judge, he said the nine shortlisted farms were “phenomenal ambassadors” for the sector and that hygiene standards on these farms were probably higher than in some kitchens in Dublin 4.

The overall prize went to a family farm in Cavan run by David and Kathleen Cassidy from Lisnagar, Cootehill. Milk from their 80-cow herd is supplied to Glanbia to make Baileys Irish Cream liqueur.

Mr Cassidy compared the award to winning the Sam Maguire trophy. “I was delighted to be in the last nine, never mind winning it,” he said. The family was presented with the award and €5,000 prize at Dublin’s RDS by Kilkenny hurling star Henry Shefflin.

National Dairy Council chief executive Zoe Kavanagh said this was a crucial time for the industry as farmers prepared for the dismantling of the milk quota system. From 2015, farmers will be free to produce as much milk as they like. “And we are extremely well positioned to take advantage of the expansion . . . agriculture is the poster child for our economic recovery,” she said.

Three other farmers won national category awards. Brothers Danny and Patrick Cremin from Newcastle West, Co Limerick were runners-up while John Payne from Moydow, Co Longford won an award for farm development.