Dara Killeen, a dairy farmer from Meelick in Co Galway has won the 2020 Macra na Feirme and FBD Young Farmer of the Year Award.
Joe Melody from Co Clare also emerged victorious after he scooped the 2020 Macra na Feirme and FBD Biodiversity Young Farmer of the Year Award which is sponsored by National Rural Network (NRN) Ireland.
“It is a huge honour for me and my family to be awarded,” added Dara.
“I was lucky to take over the farm at a young age and it is great to reward the faith my parents have put in me.”
This year the Awards featured the best emerging young farmer; land mobility; the most climate change conscious young farmer; the best farm manager; as well as the National Rural Network (NRN) biodiversity farmer of the year award.
The Awards celebrate the achievements of young farmers and their contribution to farming in Ireland; the overall winner receives a travel bursary of €3,000 while each category winner is awarded €500. County winners will also be recognised with awards for their accomplishments.
Speaking after the announcement, Macra na Feirme National President, Thomas Duffy thanked all those who applied and participated in the competition.
“We were blown away by the volume of applications this year,” he added.
“This is a testament to the quality of our finalists and we would like to thank FBD Insurance, The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the NRN for their continued support throughout this competition.”
Meanwhile, the finalists - including Maighread Barron, a dairy farmer from Co Waterford; Dara Killeen; Nicola Clarke, an equine farmer from Co Cavan; and Joe Melody - were put through their paces during the final interview panel which was held on November 24, last.
The adjudication panel chaired by Joe Healy, former Macra and IFA President also included John Donoghue, IFAC; John McCullen, FBD; Catriona Morrissey, The Irish Farmers Journal; and Anne-Marie Butler, President of the ASA.
Other winners on the night included Dara Killeen who won the Dairy category and took away the award for the Most Climate Change Conscious Young Farmer while Maighread Barron won the Land Mobility category; Christopher Scally from Roscommon was the winner in the Dry Stock category; Nicola Clarke won the Other Enterprises category; James Kiernan, Cavan won the Best Emerging Young Farmer Award; and David Fogarty of Kilkenny won the Best Young Farm Manager Award.
“The aim of the competition is to recognise and reward the top young farmers in the country, who are the future of our sector,” IFA President Tim Cullinan said.
“They are focused on building up their farm enterprises, innovating and participating in climate action and I am confident they will have a major contribution to make in the years to come.”