Ronan Byrne of the Friendly Farmer based near Athenry won the top prize in the ‘‘Rising Star of 2014’’ category at the first Zurich Farming Independent Farmer of the Year Awards, sponsored by Teagasc.
Other contenders included fellow Galway farmer Kenneth Keavey of Green Earth Organics, and Tomas Lyng, a young dairy farmer from Co. Kilkenny.
‘‘It means a huge amount for our small family farm enterprise to be recognised by the farming community’’ said Byrne, ‘‘We farm just 35 acres with none of our fields being more than two-three acres in size. Therefore I tried to take a different approach and step outside the traditional boundaries a bit. If nothing else, I hope this can help get the message out to young farmers that it is not all about scale and the only barrier to a successful business on a small farm is our thinking.’’
Over the course of seven years, Byrne’s business has grown from a traditional suckler herd farm to an alternative pasture-reared poultry enterprise which plans to develop itself further with the local resources available to it.