Just last month , which recognise and reward the exceptional performance being achieved by members of its Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes for beef, horticulture and dairy. These schemes are pivotal to differentiating Irish food products in the global marketplace. Participating farms meet high standards around food safety, animal health, welfare and traceability.
With the Origin Green programme, Ireland is the first country in the world to audit and carbon footprint its livestock farms, currently at a rate of 650 a week, under what is in effect a national programme and in the process provide measurement, feedback for continuous improvement to farmers. The results represent a unique selling point for Irish food exports, proving that farmers are operating with due care for the surrounding environment, resulting in a low *carbon footprint.
Speaking about the awards, Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said, “The farmers chosen as finalists for these awards are already regarded by the industry as being among the very best. Their commitment to sustainable production through the Origin Green programme and willingness to have their achievements judged by a panel of experts shows their ambition to be the best and to make the Irish food and drink industry a world leader. In measuring their environmental impact, meeting high standards around hygiene, farm safety, traceability, animal welfare and remedy use and commitment to their locality, they embody the qualities that attract international food buyers to Ireland. These are the farmers Bord Bia will be looking to when we are demonstrating to food buyers the solid foundations on which the Irish food and drink industry has been built and why it is sustainable into the future.”, she added. Judging Process The beef and dairy finalists were visited over recent weeks by the judges, from Bord Bia ,Teagasc and the Irish Farmers Journal who were impressed with the practices being adopted to raise efficiency and profitability. These include measures to improve animal performance, herd health and fertility, while controlling inputs such as concentrate feed and fertilizer.
New to the awards programme this year, judging for the horticulture sector was completed by experts from Teagasc, University College Dublin and I.T. Blanchardstown. The judges commended the positive attitude and clear understanding of the importance of farm sustainability demonstrated by the finalists Each finalist exhibited an inherent understanding of the importance and relevance of implementing strategies to promote safe working systems for staff, increase energy efficiency, and to protecting and enhancing biodiversity and the environment on their farms through the use of modern technologies allied with well-established good agricultural practices. The overall category winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, 12th December 2018.
The overall category winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at The Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co. Laois on Wednesday 12th December.
Twelve producers were shortlisted under this category, based on their overall audit performance in the Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme since it was launched in November 2017 under the following four categories:
Mushrooms Field Vegetables Potatoes Fruits and Protected Crops Each shortlisted finalist was visited by an independent judging panel and were assessed across 17 sustainability topics including crop husbandry, health and safety, farm labour, local community involvement, environmental/biodiversity measures and energy usage. These finalists are among the top performing horticultural farms in Ireland producing high quality fresh produce.
The two mushroom companies nominated this year were:Reilly’s Mushrooms Walderstown, Athlone, Co Westmeath and Clune Mushrooms Clune, Clonoulty, Co.Tipperary.