Dairy co-operatives throughout the country are invited to nominate their top suppliers for the awards each year. The farms nominated for the annual awards undergo a detailed assessment by an expert judging panel based on milk quality test results and technical reports spanning a full 12-month period in order to select a short-list of finalists.
2021 winners – McCarthy Family from Feenagh, Co. Limerick
Considering the growing importance of sustainability across farming and food production, we have introduced additional criteria to identify farmers operating a sustainable dairy operation with clear evidence of excellent practices in the areas beyond quality milk. We are specifically looking for farmers demonstrating their care for the environment, animals, and livelihood. While the quality of milk produced is the ultimate indicator of excellence, judges are now seeking finalists who achieve optimum performance in five key areas:
Nominated by Kerry Agribusiness
Michael and Alex McCarthy are based in Feenagh, Co. Limerick, and have been farming together for the past four years. Michael, a fifth-generation farmer, began helping his father out on the family farm almost 46 years ago.
They live on the farm with Michael’s wife, Mary Ita, and Alex’s family, wife Siobhan and daughter Chloe. Since Alex’s return to the farm four years ago, the father and son duo expanded their land to enable further growth, and subsequently increased their herd size. Made for the outdoors, Michael considers himself a lucky man – dairying has been the love of his life, and himself and Mary Ita are most happy when farming, gardening or spending time with their granddaughter.
2019 QMA WINNERS
Nominated by Glanbia
Kieran loves working outdoors and enjoys the variety of work on the farm, he is a second-generation farmer and has been farming since 1990. Both he and Ann come from generations of farmers so it’s really in the blood and they love a job that keeps all the family together. They have expanded the farm to make it more profitable and sustainable and to produce top quality milk. In their spare time, Kieran and Ann enjoy reading, walking and enjoying activities with their children.
2020 QMA WINNERS
Nominated by Aurivo Co-op
Richard Starrett’s farm in Killendarragh, Lifford, Co Donegal is a true family operation. The father-of-three lives on the farm with his parents, his wife Wendy and children, David, Holly and John. Richard studied agriculture in the 1980s and took over the farm in 1994 when his father took the early retirement scheme. The Starrett family are originally from Armagh and Richard’s grandfather purchased the farm in 1934, the same year Richard’s father was born. Richard’s favourite memory is getting the new milking parlour in 1986. Richard believes that bigger is not always better in farming, and this year plans to focus on improving other aspects of his farm. He is especially focused on sustainability and thinks it is important for children to learn where their food comes from. The farm has won a number of awards in the past.
Professor of Public Health at UCD
“Every year, entrants to the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards impress the judges with high calibre production practices and commitment to sustainable farming. Each finalist was put through intense scrutiny, including a thorough analysis of milk quality reports and technical data spanning 12 months. The judging process also included an inspection on farm to gain insights into areas such as animal welfare and sustainability. All finalists clearly demonstrated excellent standards in all facets of food production and are true ambassadors for Irish dairy.”
Prof. Patrick Wall is both a vet and a medical doctor and is Professor of Public Health in University College Dublin, and a member of the UCD Institute for Food and Health. His research areas include food safety, nutrition and managing lifestyle related disease through behavioural change. As a doctor he is a specialist in Communicable Diseases and was the head of the Foodborne Diseases Division of the UK CDC.
He was the first Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and contributed to the setting up of this science-based consumer protection agency created in response to the BSE crisis. He was a founder member of the management board, and the second Chairperson, of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) based in Parma in Italy. He was on the oversight committee for food safety at the Beijing Olympic Games and is a member of the international scientific advisory committee of the Chinese National Agency for Food Safety and Risk Assessment. He is also on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.
He is chairperson of Independent Milk Laboratories, a joint venture between Progressive Genetics and the UK National Milk Records Group (NMR). He is on the board of management of Agri Aware and, since the onset of the pandemic, he has been a director of a HSE Covid Control Centre located on the UCD campus.
Milk Quality Research, Teagasc
“Producing quality milk is a key goal for all nominees but having an economically sustainable system that is environmentally friendly and maximizes farm output was also considered important.”
Dr. David Gleeson is a Research Officer in the Livestock Systems Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Moorepark. He is currently responsible for a research area with a focus on improving the quality of milk produced on dairy farms, with specific focus on milk hygiene, milk storage, teat disinfection, cleaning of milking equipment, detergents, minimizing residues at farm level and udder health.
David is presently leading a number of research projects and has published over 80 peer reviewed research papers. His previous research interests include machine milking, milking frequency, calf-rearing and farm labour efficiency. He hails from a farming background in Newport, Co. Tipperary. He has an MSc from University College Cork and a PhD degree from University College Dublin.
Deputy Editor, Irish Farmers’ Journal
“It is clear the high standards achieved in milk quality are not a one-off special result. The track record of producing consistently high-quality standards not only this year but in previous years reflects, through great attention to detail, the finalists’ dedication to providing top quality milk for consumers.”
Dr. Jack Kennedy is the Deputy Editor with the Farmers Journal which he joined in October 2002. His main areas of responsibility spans across the Journal products outlining the best existing and emerging technology inside and outside the farm gate to Irish farmers.
He previously worked as a researcher at Teagasc Moorepark Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre. He hails from a farming background in Cahir, Co Tipperary. He has a degree from the University College Dublin in Agriculture and a doctorate from Moorepark and UCD.
Jack’s interests outside of farming are cycling and following all sports.