ASA Annual Banquet and Conference 2017
ASA Banquet and Conference 2017
The Future of Agri-food
ASA conference 2017 celebrates 75 years
On Friday 8th September 2017, more than 400 delegates from the Irish agri-food industry gathered in the Killashee House Hotel, Naas for the annual ASA conference which celebrated 75 years of the professional association. The conference, entitled ‘The Future of Agri-Food’ was once again sponsored by FBD Insurance.
On Thursday evening, as is tradition, the pre-conference banquet took place, welcoming almost 600 industry leaders to the Killashee House Hotel. This black-tie event, supported by Bord Bia, provides a unique occasion for members of the agri-food sector to network and celebrate our industry and is now regarded as the premier event within the industry annually.
Aidan Cotter, former CEO of Bord Bia was presented with a ‘Distinguished Member’ award on the night. A long-standing member of the ASA, Mr Cotter was honoured for his dedication, commitment and immense contribution to the Irish agri-food industry during his almost 40-year career. He was credited for the pivotal role he played in devising and delivering Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative, the world-first national sustainability plan, which today boasts a registered membership of over 525 Irish food, drink and horticulture companies and over 60,000 farmers. This award was generously sponsored by AIB. Guest speaker on the evening was renowned broadcaster, businessman and former Minister for Agriculture, Ivan Yates.
The conference event was officially opened by Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development who said that the UK needs to take responsibility for finding a workable solution to Brexit which is already having a negative impact on the value of Irish agri-food exports. He also said that farmers who are the ‘boots on the ground’ need to do more to be part of the solution in dealing with climate change.
The first session, Global Trade: Navigating a Changing Environment, was chaired by RTE Broadcaster Damien O’Reilly and featured contributions from Ambassador Darci Vetter, Former Chief Agricultural Negotiator under the Obama administration, Zoltan Somogyi, Head of Unit in Trade, European Commission and Brendan Gleeson, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine who discussed the impact the volatility in global markets was having on the Irish agri-food sector.
The keynote address for the second session, Food Wise 2025: Achieving Ireland’s Agri-food Ambition, was delivered by Aidan O’Driscoll, Secretary General, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine who provided an update on the industry’s ambitious targets for 2030. This was followed by a lively panel discussion, chaired by Dr. Karina Pierce of University College Dublin, featuring Pat Dillon, Head of Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Programme, Teagasc; Joe Healy, President, Irish Farmers Association and Richard Kennedy, CEO, Devenish.
Following this, Eoin Lowry, Agri-business Editor with the Irish Farmers Journal conducted an engaging Executive Chair interview with Jim Bergin, CEO Glanbia Ireland who warned that the current record price for butter was “unsustainable” and was causing severe challenges along the supply chain. He noted that milk production in Europe’s two largest producers, France and Germany, was beginning to recover and New Zealand was likely to have a good season, given the prevailing price forecast. Weather as always would play a key role. He also highlighted the movement in the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro, which would likely impact on dairy markets in 2018.
In the afternoon, the Dairy Outlook: An International Perspective session chaired by Joe Gill, Director, Goodbody Capital Markets featured representatives from two of the world’s leading dairy co-operatives, Professor Nicola Shadbolt, Director of Fonterra Cooperative, New Zealand and Jeroen Elfers, Director of Corporate Affairs, Friesland Campina.
The final session of the day was chaired by former agricultural journalist, Maeve Dineen focused on Irish Beef: The Global Opportunity and heard contributions from Tara McCarthy, Chief Executive, Bord Bia; Niall Browne, Chief Executive, Dawn Meats and Rowena Dwyer, Chief Economist, Irish Farmers Association.
ASA President 2016 – 2017