Review of the year: Farming festivals, world-class research and third-level agriculture bonanza
August began with the news that Dawn Fresh Foods was closing its plant in Fethard with the loss 104 permanent positions following the decline in ready meals in the UK market since the horsemeat controversy earlier in the year.
There was good news too with the announcement of awards for Ireland’s top cheesemakers at the 116th annual Nantwich International Cheese Show in Cheshire. Among the top accolades went to Listowel-based Beal Organic Cheese. Also some 15 Irish companies were awarded three-star gold Great Taste Awards by the Guild of Fine Food, a prestigious international body this month, a great achievement.
August was a great month for farming festivals. The Durrow Scarecrow Festival was a big hit. The 140th Dublin Horseshow secured record attendance this year. So too did the Tullamore Show where 61,000 people attended and the Virgina Show was an outstanding success. Alas festivals are not without their controversy, a cherry cake scandal at Iverk Show in Kilkenny was a highlight!
There were great strides in innovation too, with the Grassometer, turning grass into cash with a new monitor, one key Irish announcement. Also significant world-class genetic sexed semen research was revealed by the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation at the Virginia Show. Ireland is leading in this field.
Macra na Feirme also celebrated this month with its new crop of leading women. The winner of the International Miss Macra 2013 went to Miss Gemma Goulding from Laois won International Miss Macra 2013.
Also this month, AgriLand revealed delays in live cattle exports where four cargo ships were denied approval to carry live cattle exports following an inspection. Meanwhile huge growth in trade to Libya was noted where more than 7,424 cattle and almost 22,000 lambs have been shipped to Libya so far this year.
In terms of agri-business Kerry Group saw its revenue jumped to €2.9bn and Glanbia announce 13 per cent revenue growth, both announcement’s were made in August. A Irish third-level agriculture bonanza was also noted, with the popularity of careers and the numbers of applicants in agriculture, horticulture and food courses increasing across the board.
And some more great news for August. Ireland’s National Potato Day trended worldwide on Twitter. Bord Bia’s director of horticulture Mike Neary said at the time that it was fantastic and described events across Ireland as a huge success.
August also saw the launch of Ireland’s Organic Farming Action Plan 2013- 2015 and warnings of milk quota superlevy surfaced. Also on the milk front this month GIIL rolled out on-farm sustainability plan to its 4,300 milk suppliers and milk quota was allocated to 91 new dairy entrants.
This month also saw a world first where a test-tube burger got a taste. By all accounts it went down a treat, but nothing like the real thing!
Pictured: Miss Gemma Goulding from Laois won International Miss Macra 2013