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Sustainability Research by Teagasc PhD student wins AES Best Poster award

Teagasc Walsh Fellow and PhD candidate, Mary Brennan, was awarded the Best Poster at the 92nd Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Society, which was held recently at the University of Warwick. Mary’s research, ‘The development of Social Sustainability Indicators using the Teagasc National Farm Survey’ was one of twenty posters presented at the annual conference, with participants ranging from various international universities and research institutions

The sustainability of food production is a topical issue for consumers, food producers and policy makers alike. The social aspect of sustainability is a topic of growing importance. Mary’s research involves the development of a suite of indicators to capture the social sustainability of food production in Ireland. These social indicators will complement the indicators of economic viability and environmental sustainability that already exist within the Teagasc National Farm Survey. The expansion of social sustainability indicators is imperative for the evaluation of polices regarding rural sustainability and development, in addition to providing socio-economic statistics on current farm and community level conditions.

The winning poster showcased Mary Brennan’s research to date, including the categorisation of potential social indicators into three general headings, Farmer, Animal and Community Wellbeing. Animal welfare including antibiotic use, farmers’ wellbeing, especially mental health, and the contribution of agriculture to the long-term vibrancy of rural areas are all topics of increased focus in recent times. Mary’s research will provide an important barometer of the current status of these important issues in Ireland.  In collaboration with her supervisors, Dr. Emma Dillon from the Teagasc Agricultural Economics and Farm Surveys Department, Athenry, and Professor Thia Hennessy, Dean of Cork University Business School, Mary derived these potential indicators from literature, a series of stakeholder interviews and a survey of farmers that will commence shortly through the Teagasc National Farm Survey.

Speaking after receiving the award, Mary Brennan said: I am absolutely delighted to be selected for the best poster.  Thank you to Prof. John Davis and other committee members from the AES. The posters and presentations displayed at this conference demonstrate the vast array of research and development that is on-going in the agricultural economics sector, and is a testament to the hard work invested by all the participants.  And a special thanks to my supervisors Prof. Thia Hennessy and Dr. Emma Dillon for all their support and advice, and to my colleagues in Athenry and UCC. I look forward now to progressing my research into Irish agricultural sustainability, and to analysing the results of the new sustainability indicators next year’.