Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Laois organic farmer wins top award

Three of the top prizes go to organic sector

Farmer of the year, Tom Dunne, Laois with Dearbhail Brady, marketing director, Zurich General Insurance. Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Farmer of the year, Tom Dunne, Laois with Dearbhail Brady, marketing director, Zurich General Insurance. Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Sheep Farmer of the year, father and son, Ken and Richard Mathews Offaly. ICSA president Patrick Kent presents. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Dairy Farmer of the year Robert O'Dea, Limerick, ICMSA president John Comer presents
Tillage farmer of the year, Darragh Cleary, Kildare. Presented by Joe Nolan, Zurich.
Mark Duffy, Monaghan, being presented with the Alternative Farmer of the Year by the Farming Independent’s Louise Hogan.
Equestrian Business of the year, Ronan Rothwell, Wicklow with Dave Lawlor, of Land Rover.
Kieran Phelan (left), Laois, who won the Excellence in Farm Safety. Presented by Pat Griffin, senior inspector at the HSA.
Patrick Frankel, Cork, being presented the Rising Star award by Dermot McCarthy, head of Teagasc Advisory Services.
Lifetime Achievement award for Dairymaster founder Ned Harty, Co Kerry, presented by ICMSA president John Comer.
Daragh McCullough, Mary Dunne, Gemma Dunne, Beef winner Tom Dunne, Dervla Dunne, Joe Dollard, Ann Bergin.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

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.

Lifetime Achievement

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Laoisman Kieran Phelan won the award for safety, while a special lifetime achievement award was presented to Kerry's Ned Harty. Mr Harty set up Dairymaster, a milking equipment company that employs over 300 in Causeway in Kerry.

Farming Independent editor Louise Hogan said that the quality of the contestants continued to "exceed all expectations".

Zurich's Michael Doyle said: "Agriculture continues at the forefront of the economy and there is great positivity around the industry".

Indo Farming