Award for young pig farmer breaks dairy's dominance
A young pig farmer from Co Louth has broken the dominance of dairy as he was named FBD Young Farmer of the Year.
Jonathan Marry impressed judges with his plans to develop an entirely self-contained 540-sow enterprise, and his burgeoning pig-on-a-spit sideline that has up to six units on the road.
The other five finalists represented a wide mix of farming enterprises including sheep, beef, dairy and tillage.
They beat off competition from every county through a series of gruelling interviews to share in a €5,500 prize fund at a gala dinner in Ballina, Co Mayo last night.
Congratulating the finalists, the judging panel chair Aaron Forde of Aurivo said that the judges were heartened by the quality and passion of all the finalists.
"You are truly exceptional ambassadors for the sector, and this competition is proof that it is in good hands."
The other five finalists included Kilkenny and Galway dairy farmers PJ O'Keeffe and John Tully, Wicklow tillage farmer Garry Kinsella, and Thomas O'Connor who runs a beef farm in Kildare.
Despite a downturn in dairy, pig and cereal commodities that brought IFA members onto the streets of Dublin to protest earlier this week, all the finalists were adamant that the prospects remain bright for the sector.
PJ O'Keeffe is pressing ahead with plans to invest €520,000 in a new parlour to milk an additional 100 cows.
"I have already taken on a 30-year mortgage to buy 182 acres from my parents, but even with all the borrowings I estimate that my costs of production will be 25c/l after all costs and paying myself a wage.
"It's still an exciting time because there's a great opportunity to expand."