A NEW multi-million research and educational facility in Fermoy is set to play a pivotal role in the expansion of Irish farming under the governments Food Harvest 2020 initiative.
The €4 million development at the Animal and Grassland centre in the Teagasc complex at Moorepark, is being named in honour of the late Paddy O'Keeffe.
The Ballyhooley native, who passed away in late January at the age of 89, was a lifelong champion of the Irish agricultural industry.
The former editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Mr O'Keeffe also served as the chairman of the Agricultural Trust which he co-founded in 1961 and served on the boards of the Agricultural Institute, the RTE Authority and Bord na gCapall.
Half of the funding for the ambitious new project was sourced through a capital grant from the FBD trust, which was co founded in 1967 by Mr O'Keeffe.
Current FBD chairman, Michael Berkery, said it was fitting that the new facility would carry Mr O'Keefe's name.
"The FBD Trust is delighted to co-finance this fantastic facility and in doing so to recognise the extraordinary contribution of Paddy O'Keeffe during his lifetime to FBD, to farming and to research," said Mr Berkery.
He said the facility would greatly assist Teagasc in the delivery of cutting edge research and provide a strong educational programme for young farmers.
"These were two key areas championed by Paddy during his lifetime. This centre will stand as a fitting tribute to him for generations to come," said Mr Berkery.
The new centre will central to the delivery of third level agricultural education and will assist Teagasc in providing an integrated animal and grassland research programme benefitting the dairy, sheep, beef and pigs sectors.
Teagasc director, Professor Gerry Boyle, said the new facility would also be used to provide in-service training for Teagasc advisors as well as a centre for meetings and conferences.
"I would like to acknowledge FBD's generous support without which we simply would not have been able to undertake a project on this scale at a time of scarce public resources," said Professor Boyle.