Minister launches Grassland Farmer of the Year competition

The Grassland Farmer of the Year competition for 2019 was officially launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle TD, at the Teagasc dairy open day, Moorepark ’19. 

This competition will recognise and acknowledge those farmers who are achieving high levels of grass utilisation in a sustainable manner. 

The Grassland Farmer of the Year competition is being run as part of the Teagasc Grass 10 grassland campaign.

The focus of Grass 10 is on increasing the quantity of grass utilised on livestock farms with the objective of achieving 10 tonnes grass dry matter per hectare per annum utilised, with 10 grazings per paddock per year. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Doyle said: “The focus in both the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition and the Grass 10 campaign is on utilisation of existing grass production. This is very important from the perspective of improving the sustainability credentials of our grass based livestock and dairy sectors.

“Irish agriculture faces serious challenges in trying to meet Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia emissions targets. This competition aims to raise awareness on the critical role that grass plays in supporting dairy and livestock production in a sustainable manner.

“These sectors possess a significant cost advantage in the form of an environmentally sustainable, rain-fed, grass based production system. It is this grass based system that provides Ireland with its comparative advantage in increasingly competitive international markets, but there is room for improvement.

“The Teagasc Grass 10 Campaign is a very important element in delivering on the priorities of the sustainable grassland initiative. In order to strengthen coherence between the two initiatives, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, along with other stakeholders which include Allied Irish Bank, FBD Insurance, Grassland Agro and Irish Farmers Journal are supporting the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition.”

Concluding, the minister said: “This competition will bring the message to farm level that more effective utilisation of the national grassland resource also has the potential to further reduce negative environmental impacts while supporting increased productivity. I encourage grassland farmers to apply.”

Coordinator of the Teagasc Grass 10 Campaign, John Maher said: “Grass is the key to profitable and sustainable milk and meat production in Ireland. Through the Grass 10 campaign and through this Grassland Farmer of the Year competition, we want to encourage farmers, across the country and across the enterprises to optimise the use of the valuable resources that grass is on Irish farms.”

The objective of the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition is to promote excellence in grassland management among all livestock farmers. The competition has seven categories with an overall prize fund of €30,000. 

Enterprise awards include Dairy, Sheep, Beef Suckling and non-suckling categories. Other categories include Disadvantaged Land winner, Sustainable Farming winner and a Young Farmer (under 30 years) category winner.

The young farmer category can include entrants that are farm managers or farming in a collaborative arrangement.

Entry forms are available on and from local Teagasc advisory offices.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, July 31, 2019.