Thirteen of Ireland’s top dairy farms have been shortlisted for the final of the National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards.

The 13 shortlisted dairy farmers, based in nine counties, reached the final following nomination by co-ops around Ireland. The finalists will be put through an intensive judging process before a winner is announced on October 20.

The achievements of this year’s finalists and winning farm will be celebrated in a campaign using the hashtag #MadeForThis, which will highlight the excellence of Irish dairy farming both at home and abroad.

Zoe Kavanagh, Chief Executive of the National Dairy Council explained how both heritage and innovation are at the heart of the perfect dairy farm.

“What we have seen year after year, in the finalists and winners in the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards is the marriage of traditional farming techniques, passed through generations, with the application of the best of modern technology and science,” she said.

These dairy farmers excel because they are #MadeForThis farming life. They are the product of generations of craft, but recognise the importance of farming innovation.

“Combined with their inherent passion, our best dairy farmers are thirsty for knowledge and hungry to improve their farming techniques, to better care for their cows and to produce even higher quality milk,” she said.

Kevin Lane, Ornua CEO explained the importance of the awards in recognising the contribution of dairy farmers in driving standards of excellence in farming.

“The dairy farmers who have been shortlisted are the best of the best. They show a dedication to their craft which is beyond parallel.

They are not only driving the quality of their own farms, but they are also raising the bar for the whole industry.

“Irish dairy farming is the best in the world, not only because of our natural grass-based production system, but also because our farmers, down through generations, generously share their knowledge and continuously improve standards in the industry and in their communities,” he said.

Those contending for the top spot will be judged based on inspection of milk quality reports and technical data spanning a full 12-month period; combined with best practice on critical areas such as sustainability, care of the environment, animal health and welfare and overall farm management.

The overall winning dairy farmer will receive a prize of €5,000 and the coveted National Dairy Council and Kerrygold Quality Milk Award perpetual trophy.

County Cavan

  • Ivor Smyth, Countenan, Poles, Co Cavan (representing Lakeland Dairies)

County Cork

  • Dan and Valerie Dennehy, Clonmoyle, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork (representing Dairygold Co-op)
  • James Kingston, Maulnageragh, Clonakilty, Co. Cork (representing Lisavaird Co-op)
  • Owen and Rosaleen O’Brien, Cashelbeg, Enniskeane, Co. Cork (representing Bandon Co-op)
  • Denis, Siobhan, Barry and Jane O’Mahony, Shanakiel, Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co. Cork (representing Barryroe Co-op)
  • Kieran and Catherine O’Sullivan, Dunmanus, Goleen, Co. Cork (representing Drinagh Co-op)

County Galway

  • John and Colette Fox, Ballinacregg, Oranmore, Co. Galway (representing Arrabawn Co-op)

County Kerry

  • Florence and Caitriona McCarthy, Banna East, Ardfert, Co. Kerry (representing Lee Strand Co-op)

County Kilkenny

  • John and Margaret Greene, Greenville, Callan, Co. Kilkenny (representing Callan Co-op)

County Limerick

  • Michael and Mary Ita McCarthy, Kilmurray, Feenagh, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick (representing Kerry Agribusiness)

County Sligo

  • Gerard and Marie Killoran, Carrowloughlin, Bunninadden, Ballymote, Co. Sligo (representing Aurivo Co-op)

County Tipperary

  • Thomas and Marie Ryan, Kylemakill, Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary (representing Centenary Thurles Co-op)

County Wexford

  • John and Ann Fitzgerald, Gobbinstown House, New Ross, Co. Wexford (representing Glanbia Ingredients Ireland)