Laois organic farmer wins top award
Three of the top prizes go to organic sector
A Laois organic beef farmer has been crowned Ireland's best farmer.
Tom Dunne was named the Zurich Farm Insurance Farming Independent Farmer of the Year after he beat off stiff competition from every county in what has become Ireland's biggest annual farming competition, with a prize fund of over €20,000.
Along with a cheque for €2,500, Mr Dunne also received free insurance for his superb year-round beefing operation that supplies organic beef to Cahir-based processor, ABP-Good Herdsman.
"This is a huge thing for me, my family, and the organic sector. We don't get an awful lot of recognition from the farm lobby group, and other farmers probably think we're a bit off-centre, but that's not the case at all. Organic farming is a hell of a challenge, but it's hugely rewarding, with the last 12 months being extremely good for the sector," he said.
Organic producers featured prominently among the finalists, with Monaghan's Mark Duffy winning the alternative category with his organic egg and cattle enterprise, and Patrick Frankel winning the rising star section with his organic fruit and vegetable farm in Cork.
The top dairy farmer was Limerick's Robert O'Dea, while Kildare's Darragh Cleary bagged the top tillage farmer award.
Father and son team, Ken and Richard Mathews from Offaly were named as the sheep section winners, while Wicklow's Ronan Rothwell won the equestrian section.