Minister Launches Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, has officially launched the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition. 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 four-year 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 Creed said: “The focus in both the Grass 10 campaign and the Grassland Farmer of the Year competition on utilisation of existing grass production is very important from the perspective of improving the sustainability credentials of our grass based livestock and dairy sectors. This campaign will also have an important environmental impact in that production of meat and milk per hectare will increase, without a similar increase in the level of inputs’.
2017 is also the year of the Department’s Sustainable Grassland initiative. This initiative supports the goals of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and aims at raising awareness on the critical role that grass plays in supporting competitive dairy and livestock production. 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 optimize the use of the valuable resources that grass is on Irish farms.”