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New Innovation Centre for Grassland and Dairying Opened

Over €4.5 million has been invested in a new Innovation Centre for Grassland and Dairying at the Teagasc campus in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. The Paddy O'Keeffe Innovation Centre, funded by FBD Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine was officially opened today, Friday, 17 April. Present for the opening were EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas and Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine & Defence, Simon Coveney TD.

The Paddy O’Keeffe Innovation Centre will be used by the researchers, specialists and advisers involved in the delivery of the Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Programme, and in the delivery of part of Teagasc Education programme. Specifically, it will support the research programme on grassland, animal breeding and health, and farming systems.

Speaking at the official opening, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: "The late Paddy O'Keeffe really is one of the legends of Irish agriculture. His passion for innovation, for change, for development, for productivity and ultimately for the sustainability of Irish agriculture and the rural way of life are values more important today than ever before, as we enter a new era of Irish, and indeed European, agriculture."

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: "I am delighted to see this major new investment in the future of farming, food and rural communities. This is a good case where science and research are ‘down to earth’. Faced with an emerging risk to our future food security, Europe needs to step up research and innovation across the agri-food chain to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead."

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said: “Paddy O’Keefe was a much admired figure who spent his life seeking out new knowledge that would ultimately help improve the agri-food sector here in Ireland. His commitment to education, research and the dissemination of information to the farming community remained constant over the decades and this Innovation Centre is a truly fitting tribute to his legacy.”

Teagasc Chairman, Dr. Noel Cawley thanked FBD Trust for their generous financial support which facilitated the establishment of the Paddy O’Keeffe Innovation Centre. He also acknowledged the funding contribution from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine towards the Centre. “Paddy was a passionate advocate of new knowledge and recognised the need for continuous improvement within the industry and the need to develop Ireland’s competitive advantage as grass based milk producers. As we enter this new post quota era in milk production, and as we strive to increase our utilisation of grass in beef and sheep systems, this new Innovation Centre, the researchers working here and the young people educated here, will play an increasingly important role in developing Irish agriculture in the future.”

Michael Berkery, Chairman of FBD, said: “FBD’s very substantial financial investment in the Moorepark Research and Innovation Centre is a strong statement of the Company’s commitment to Irish farmers and the agricultural industry. He added; “The Teagasc Moorepark research team, led by Dr. Pat Dillon, were greatly admired by the late Paddy O’Keeffe. This talented team and the new facilities co-funded by FBD private funding, have the capacity to elevate Ireland’s grass-based dairy industry to compete with the very best in the world.“ Mr. Berkery went on to say that “This is a unique financial investment by a private company to public research. The new facilities were a fitting tribute to the late Paddy O’Keeffe’s fearless leadership and lifelong contribution to transforming Irish agriculture”.

Paddy O’Keeffe was instrumental in the establishment of FBD Insurance Company and was its Chairman for over 20 years. His foresight, leadership and lifelong commitment to the advancement of Irish agriculture, through research and education, established the philanthropic ethos of the FBD Trust over 40 years ago. The Trust continues to fund research and education that will benefit Irish farming and promote the sustainable future growth of Irish agriculture. Through the Trust, the FBD Insurance Group continues to this day to reciprocate the customer loyalty of Irish farmers and Ireland's agricultural community to the Company.”

The Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Programme is funded through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Dairy Levy and from the EU through Horizon 2020 and its previous Framework programmes.