Farmers of the future told sector is still a major force in the economy

AS a 34-year-old Co Limerickman was named last night as the FBD Young Farmer of the Future, it was stressed that farming will continue to make a major contribution to the national economy.

The winner, Michael Reidy, Kilcoleman, Patrickswell, a full-time dairy and beef farmer who milks 60 cows to produce 70,000 gallons, also rears all his calves and finishes them to beef. “I want to promote farming as an attractive career for those who are willing to work efficiently and wisely”, said Michael, who is PRO of Limerick IFA and a former chairman of his local Macra club.

Michael Crinion, Gaybrook, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was second and Diarmuid Hegarty, Killclough, Vicarstown, Co. Cork, was third in the awards, run by Macra na Feirme in partnership with the IFA to promote farming as an exciting and viable profession for young people.

There were 31 contestants, each representing a county, and with track records for initiative, community involvement, agricultural knowledge and vision for the future.

The awards, presented at a banquet in Navan, Co Meath, are now in their fourth year and have received a hugely positive response from both the farming and wider community.

Former Taoiseach, John Bruton, TD, who was chairman of the judging panel, said he was extremely impressed by the calibre of the young farmers in the competition.

It shows that the future of farming in Ireland is in safe hands and that the agricultural sector will continue to make a major contribution to the economy, he said.

Macra na Feirme president Seamus Phelan, stressing that farming has a future, said it is a great career and way of life. Modern farming is very challenging as a high level of technical and business skill is needed to master the profession.

IFA president John Dillon said the FBD awards highlight the many positive aspects of farming. This year has been a difficult one for farmers in general, but it is still important to have a positive outlook about the future.

FBD Insurance deputy chief executive Philip Fitzsimons said the company was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved once again with the competition. “Farming is at the core of FBD's success and new farmers are essential for future growth and development in the farming business,” he said.

The overall winner of the competition won a travel bursary worth 2,500 and 1,300 spending money. Second place prize was a travel bursary worth 1,300 and 600 spending money.

The third place prize was a travel bursary for 600 and 350 spending money.

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