Waterford farmer uses New Zealand experience to win top award

Nine Farmers in total won Major Awards at the 2018 FBD Young Farmer of the Year event in Dublin

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A Waterford farmer is celebrating this week after winning a major award at the 2018 FBD Young Farmer of the Year awards ceremony in Castleknock, Dublin.

Kinsalebeg Macra’s Eamonn Keevers won the Dairy Award at the 20th edition of the competition, which was sponsored by FBD and supported by the IFA and the National Rural Network.

“After completing my leaving cert, I spent two years in advanced dairy at Kildalton College. Through this, I experienced six months in New Zealand on a dairy farm. I then completed a professional diploma in dairy farm management in Moorepark.

“In 2016, I came home where I now farm in partnership with both my parents. It’s a spring calving system, milking 108 cows on a 30ha milking platform. Its grass based, growing 12 tonne of DM/Ha last year and achieving 450kgs MS/cow on 350kgs of meal/cow in 2017. Future target is to grow more grass and improve milk solids while also growing the business,” Eamonn says.

24-year-old beef farmer Daniel Hawthorne from Monaghan took home the top prize as he was crowned the 2018 FBD Young Farmer of the Year.  

The judging panel for the final was comprised of Sharon McGuinness (CEO, HSA), John Donoghue (CEO, IFAC), Eoin Lowry (Agribusiness Editor, IFJ), Laurence Fallon (past Macra president) and Dr Tom Kelly (Director of Knowledge Transfer, Teagasc).

IFA President Joe Healy said: 'The farmers of the future will have to be resilient, agile and adaptable. If this year’s weather events have taught us anything, it is that the ability to confront unexpected challenges will have to be in every farmer’s armoury.

“In its 20 year history, the FBD Young Farmer of the Year event has successfully drawn the best from the candidates and has always chosen a winner that represents everything that is good about the emerging talent in Irish farming.”

The aim of the competition is to recognise and reward the top young farmers in the country. Entrants are judged according to a number of criteria including farm business initiative and innovation, levels of farm efficiency and enterprise quality, farm safety and environmental protection awareness, as well as agricultural knowledge and community involvement.