KILKENNY MAN CLAIMS YOUNG FARMER OF THE YEAR TITLE
The 19th FBD Young Farmer of the Year has been named as PJ O’Keeffe, a young dairy farmer from Callan, Co.Kilkenny. He has won the prestigious title following a challenging interview process and an on-farm visit. Judging panel chairperson Karina Pierce from the UCD Institute of Food and Health, announced the winner at an awards ceremony in the Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar, Co.Mayo on Tuesday night. He has won a travel bursary worth €3,000.
The competition is organised by Macra na Feirme in partnership with the IFA and sponsors, FBD. There were also sector prizes for dairy, beef, sheep and the U23 farmer of the year. Martin Cole from Carlow took home the Sheep Category title, James Greene from Laois was the winner of the Beef Category and Darragh Barron, a beef farmer was winner of the U23 category, PJ O'Keeffe also took home the Dairy Category prize.
Macra na Feirme National President, James Healy, said, ‘This is one of the most prestigious nights on the farming calendar where industry and farmers come together to recognise and award the brightest and best young farmers in the country, it is one of the most important competitions we have, well done to everyone who took part and congratulations to the category winners and to PJ O’Keeffe from Kilkenny, the 19th FBD Young Farmer of the Year’.
Fiona Muldoon, CEO FBD Insurance said, ‘FBD Insurance plc continues to support this prestigious event for the young farmers of Ireland run by Macra na Feirme with our help. We believe that the nominees for the FBD Young Farmer of the Year award are the next generation of farming talent in Ireland. We know that these Awards inspire young farmers to take on board best practice, to embrace technology and to build their businesses for the future. I congratulate all the participants and in particular this year’s winner’.
Dr Karina Pierce, UCD Institute of Food and Health, chaired the final judging panel of Thomas Honner former Macra President; Darren Carthy of the Irish Farmers Journal; John O’ Donoghue from IFAC Accountants and Breian Carroll from Carroll consultants;
IFA President Joe Healy praised the calibre of the entrants in this year's Young Farmer of the Year competition. He said, ‘The competition has played an important role in helping to focus young farmers on the importance of treating their farms like businesses and staying on top of, and in control of, all inputs and outputs.’
He identified the next CAP as being a key policy driver in developing young talent for our farming sector. ‘Anything that helps succession and brings on new blood can only be good for the sector. Commissioner Hogan should look at instruments that encourage farm transfers.’
The aim of the competition is to recognise and reward the top young farmers in the country. Entrants are judged according to a number of criteria including farm business initiative and innovation, levels of farm efficiency and enterprise quality, farm safety and environmental protection awareness, as well as agricultural knowledge and community involvement.