The search is on for Ireland’s top dairy farm – does yours fit the bill?

Dairy co-ops are being invited to nominate their top milk suppliers for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards to find Ireland’s top dairy farm for 2016.

The closing date for nominations to the annual competition is Friday, May 13, 2016.

Jeanne Kelly, Kerrygold spokesperson, said that Irish dairy produce has a superb reputation for quality in global markets.

“In Ireland, many of us take it for granted that we have countryside with so many fields of grass – but our green countryside is a tremendous asset because the pasture-based model of dairy farming is a vital ingredient for the success of the Kerrygold brand worldwide.”

National judge Professor Pat Wall from UCD said consumers in Ireland are fortunate to have access to fresh top quality milk everyday for their breakfast and for their coffee or tea.

Professor Wall said that Ireland is the envy of consumers in many other countries.

Our farmers are not only focused on producing quality milk but are addressing animal welfare and environmental protection and our award winners are role models for all the dairy farmers of Ireland and are phenomenal ambassadors for our industry.

Teagasc’s Dr. David Gleeson said that when the judging panel visit the short-listed farms every year they see at first hand the genuine pride of Irish dairy farmers in what they do on a daily basis.

“It is a pleasure for us as judges to share in their experiences. What stands out is dedication to consistently doing the simple things right; and a heartfelt wish to carry on the tradition of the family farm, passing on the farm as good as, or better than it was before to the next generation.”

A celebratory campaign, under the heading #MadeForThis, will focus on the importance of heritage and the sense of collective kinship that exists in farm communities.

The judges will initially undertake detailed assessments based on the nomination forms and technical reports spanning a full 12 month period in order to select a short-list of finalists.

According to the NDC, the judges will then arrange to visit each of the finalist farms for an inspection.

In addition to identifying the top dairy farm, the national judges reserve the option to award specific category awards in sectors which stand out from year to year, such care for the environment or animal care and welfare.

All of the 2015 national finalists were registered with Bord Bia’s Sustainable Assurance Scheme with pro-active farm practices related to biodiversity or conservation of wildlife, to demonstrable work on soil nutrient planning or water, extending to initiatives such as rainwater harvesting.

Nominations for the NDC and Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards should be submitted from co-ops and co-op farm services managers using the official nomination form, before Friday May 13, 2016.

Rules, nomination criteria and details about the minimum qualifying standards for entry are listed on the front of the 2016 nomination form, available on the Quality Milk Awards website.

The minimum qualifying standard for entry for this national competition is TBC of 15,000 or less/ml average per month; and average SCC of 200,000 or less/ml with no count greater than 400,000ml in any given month of the year in question.