A new chair of Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has been announced with Co. Clare-based dairy farmer and former chair of Dairygold Co-op, James Lynch, taking the helm from outgoing chair, Mike Magan.

Magan, a dairy farmer from Co. Longford has been AHI chair since its founding in 2009. He announced his retirement in November 2021.

In a statement to Agriland, AHI described Lynch as a “progressive dairy farmer who has in-depth knowledge of the agri-food industry and extensive board experience at the highest level”.

“Committed to public service for more than 15 years, he has dedicated his leadership capability, broad knowledge and wise counsel to boards, management teams and farmers across Irish industry,” AHI said.

In these roles, Lynch, who hails from Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare, developed broad experience in corporate governance related to strategy, risk management, compliance, stakeholder engagement and communications.

On accepting the appointment, the incoming chair said he looked forward to working with the board, the management team and all various stakeholders.

“In working to achieve the benefits for livestock producers and processors, AHI is best placed to deliver on our commitments for all our stakeholders to ensure a profitable and sustainable farming and agri-food sector into the future.”

He also thanked, on behalf of the farmers of Ireland and the AHI board, Mike Magan for his leadership, hard work and dedication to AHI since the organisation was founded in 2009.

CEO of AHI, David Graham, congratulated Lynch on his appointment.

“I look forward to working with him in this capacity. His breadth of experience and expertise, gained both as a farmer and from a range of board activities, will benefit AHI as we continue our work to contribute to the sustainability of the sector.”

New chair – career and experience

James Lynch’s involvement in the Irish agri-food industry spans a great number of years.

He was a board member of Dairygold Co-op for 10 years from 2008-2017 and during this time he served as vice-chair from 2012-2014, and served as chair of the board from 2015-2017.

He actively participated in, and helped to create and support, the strategic direction for the co-op preceding and post EU quota abolition.

During this time as chair of the co-op, he represented Dairygold Co-op on the board of ICOS where he negotiated and supported the implementation of a code of conduct within co-operatives to support members with their milk supplies.

From 2015–2017, he was a board member and member of Rules Committee in Ornua. He successfully participated in dealing with the key challenges of identifying and developing routes to markets and adding value to products against the backdrop of a rapid expansion of milk volumes at farm and processor level.

His understanding of the commercial landscape supported Ornua’s strategy to strengthen and grow its brand and its exports internationally.

Sitting on the first board of Munster Animal Breeding Group, following its formal establishment in 2007, Lynch became one of its longest-serving board members until he retired in 2015.

A key highlight of his time on the board was to support the development of Ireland’s second AI stud, built to manage potential of disease and maximise biosecurity within the national stud.

During the period 2009-2015, as board member of the ICBF, he worked with Teagasc and other industry stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to provide cattle breeding information services to the Irish dairy and beef industries.

In 2013, he was appointed as an industry expert to the Bord Bia Dairy Advisory Board to advise on the strategy required at farm and industry level to aid the marketing of Irish dairy produce across the globe. He remained on the board until 2017.

Currently, he also sits on the National Animal Health Strategy Review Body that independently monitors the development and implementation of actions set out for collective participation among agri-food industry stakeholders to achieve optimal animal health in Ireland.

Apart from all his involvement in the industry bodies, the new AHI chair and the Lynch family will be remembered for being honoured and proud to host a visit to their farm, in 2012 by the current Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.

The Chinese premier visited the farm to observe the quality of milk production and farming techniques in operation in Irish agriculture.