John and Maria Walsh with their three children, Claire and Helena and Brendan Walsh of Ballylooby, Cahir
The country’s top prize for best quality milk has been awarded to John and Maria Walsh, from Co Tipperary who supply their milk to Dairygold Co-op. The NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards has been running since 1996 and celebrates excellence in Irish dairy farming.
The winners were announced in Dublin on the 4th October with presentations to 14 of Ireland’s top dairy farms by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.
Winners John and Maria Walsh were accompanied by their family and received a prize of €5,000 and the coveted NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards perpetual cup.
John and Maria Walsh have three children; Brendan, Claire and Helena. They are the 6th generation of farmers to farm the land and take great pride in their work. Attention to detail is paramount and all farm decisions are discussed as a family on a Saturday evening around the dinner table. Farm safety is key and something they are very passionate about.
They said “Safety is a word we cannot stop talking about. The attention to detail is something that everyone on this farm takes pride in. We believe that if our standards drop, the quality of our product will do likewise. We are always looking for new ways of improving. Many of the decisions on this farm are discussed at the dinner table, when everyone is home and can have their say”
Quote from Minister Michael Creed
“Irish farming is more than just a business; it is a way of life. Irish farmers learn their craft from their parents and grandparents before them. It is no accident that Irish dairy products are regarded as the best in the world. Irish farmers and their family’s commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out, coupled with our grass based farming systems has enabled us to build successful markets for dairy products around the world”.
The farmers who are nominated for the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards are representing milk pools of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dairy farmers in their own co-ops. It is a serious short-listing process for the three judges, Professor Pat Wall from UCD, Dr. David Gleeson (Teagasc) and Dr. Jack Kennedy (Irish Farmers Journal. This year we have introduced Irish chef Clodagh McKenna as the Food Ambassador celebrating the delicious taste and quality of Irish dairy produce both at home and abroad.
Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the NDC said “Our work in the NDC is really made possible because of the high quality of Irish milk and dairy produce available to consumers here, produced from top quality farms, off grassland”
Kevin Lane, Chief Executive of Ornua said “At Ornua, we are very proud to sponsor the NDC & Kerrygold Quality Milk Awards which is going from strength to strength each year. It is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate Irish farmers who are role models and who raise the bar for everyone in the industry, encouraging all of us to work harder and do better. Irish farmers, and their families, unrivalled commitment to delivering world class quality milk, day in day out, has enabled us to build Kerrygold into the much-loved growing global brand that it is today.”
Dr David Gleeson from Teagasc spoke on behalf of the national judging panel and thanked the farmers and co-ops for participating in the national awards, he said
“When we visit the short-listed farms every year as judges we see at first hand the genuine pride of Irish farmers and why they are #madeforthis. Twenty-two farms were nominated and 14 were short listed for a farm visit. These farms were located in 9 different counties from west Cork to Donegal. Three of the key milk quality parameters assessed in the shortlisting process are TBC; SCC and protein percentage. The milk quality standards being achieved on these nominated farms are GETTING higher each year. What stands out is dedication to doing things right; a thirst for sharing knowledge and learning about ways to improve how things are done; 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.”
Learn more about this year’s winners at www.qualitymilkawards.ie