KERRY pride, dented at the county footballers being knocked out of the All-Ireland title race on Saturday, has been partially restored.
Brothers, Tim and John Kirby, who farm in Duagh, won the prestigious Baileys Irish Cow Championship for the second successive year at the Virginia Show in Co Cavan.
It was a spectacular triumph for the Kirbys and their award winning seven-year-old Holstein Friesian cow Smearlaview Storm Vixan.
“A fantastic feeling”, was how the winners described their triumph over 21 of the country’s top dairy cows, in a class that recognised good body conformation with proven excellence in milk production.
The Kirbys also won the title with the same cow three years ago and with a different animal last year, Smearlaview Forbidden Vixan.
“I’d love to take the winning cow home himself,” was how British judge Michael Gould described his selection.
The reserve championship was won by Mervyn and Philip Jones, Killowen, Gorey, Co Wexford, with Croagh Fran 26.
Now in its 27th year, the competition carries an €8,000 prize fund and is regarded as the most prestigious on the dairy cattle-showing circuit in Ireland.
It has the iconic Baileys brand as title sponsor, and is co-sponsored by Glanbia Ingredients.
Speaking at the show, Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith urged Irish food and drink companies to target the growing Asian market. Irish food and beverage exports to that market were valued at €279 million last year.
“There is tremendous potential for developing and expanding those markets.”
“In that context, it is essential that Irish food business operators take a strategic approach to developing Asian markets,” he said.
Mr Smith said he would be personally heading the implementation group to ensure the ambitious targets in the recently published Food Harvest 2020 report can be met in the shortest possible time.
He described the report as the key to growing the value of the agri-food, fisheries and forestry sector by a third over the coming decade and increasing exports to €12 billion.
Irish Farmers Association president, John Bryan, said the badly-needed recovery in milk prices had boosted farmers’ confidence in the future of the sector.
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