Lakeland Dairies hosts All-Ireland AGM of AgriGuild with tour of Killeshandra facility

There was great attendance by AgriGuild members at the All-Ireland AGM which was hosted at the Lakeland Dairies Killeshandra facility in Co. Cavan. The cross-border milk processor provided attendees with an in depth look at operations at the plant.

Chief executive of Lakeland Dairies, Colin Kelly told members of the guild that the farmer-owned co-op is going through a “transformation phase” with more of a focus on value rather than volume.

He explained that the co-op’s aim is to continue to process two billion litres of milk per year, but to do so “more efficiently”.

Lakeland also plans to “buy in” value with a focus on internationalisation. Like many other co-ops, Kelly said there will be a need for an increase in finance for sustainability measures.

Killeshandra is Lakeland Dairies’ main food service facility and the second largest operating facility owned by the co-op after Bailieboro, which produces milk powder.

Among the products produced in Killeshandra are milk, UHT, butter, cream, ice-cream, and casein. Airlines and hospitality are large clients for Lakeland’s food service products such as its milk ‘sticks’.

The co-op is investing €17 million euro to bring liquid milk to the Killeshandra facility.

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists – southern section held its annual general meeting (AGM) at The Heritage Killenard, Co. Laois on May 20, 2023 which included a lively debate between some European elections candidates.

Agriguild president Matt O’Keeffe moderated the panel discussion which included former general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Eddie Punch who was running on behalf of Independent Ireland; Green Party senator Pauline O’Reilly; and Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.

Barry Cowen, Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly was invited to attend, however unfortunately he cancelled on the day.

The three candidates all gave their views on generational renewal and the impact of climate change, and outlined their priorities should they be elected to the European Parliament.

MEP Billy Kelleher said he wanted to ensure live exports from Ireland continue and that Ireland maintains access to the single market. He suggested that there should be more financing options for medium-sized and small enterprises and the agricultural sector.

Kelleher said: “I don’t believe Irish banks are lending in the way that they should be to the agricultural sector in general.”

Kelleher said he would also like to work on the Industrial Emissions Directive and other legislation that is “putting environmental obligations” on farmers.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly said she feels that Green Party members should be attending any event organised across the country where rural life or agriculture are being discussed.

She said: “It’s dishonest to point the finger at people who care about the environment, because my experience coming from a farming background is that farmers care every bit as much about nature as everybody else. And I also think that Greens and environmentalists care every bit as much about rural Ireland as everybody else.”

Eddie Punch contributed to the discussion by stating that Irish farmers and rural communities are “tired” of being dictated to by policy.

He said: “People on the ground are tired of being told what to think, what to eat, where to go and what to drive.”

Punch said that people across the country are “tired” of having carbon tax imposed on diesel cars when they have no alternative.

Punch also explained that farmers are finding it hard to plan or invest financially with some uncertainty over Ireland’s nitrates derogation, which is making farm profitability and sustainability very challenging.

The successful event concluded with lunch for members and guests at the Heritage Hotel.

The 155th Balmoral Show took place in spring sunshine from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th May 2024 at the Eikon Exhibition Centre, Lisburn. On the Thursday evening, RUAS President, and Guild member, John Henning welcomed members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists Ireland to a special reception.

Northern members were joined by some southern members who had travelled north to enjoy the largest agricultural event in Northern Ireland. The two course evening meal afforded a welcome rest from a busy week photographing, reporting, filming and recording the livestock class results as well as industry launches and product updates.

Chairperson of the northern section of the Guild, Rebecca McConnell thanked the RUAS for their kind hospitality and wished John every success in his term as President.

RUAS President John Henning greets GAJ Ireland (Northern Section) Chair Rebecca McConnell, ahead of the reception in the President’s Lounge at the 2024 Balmoral Show
esident John Henning chats to Bree and Darryl Rutledge at the reception in the President’s Lounge at Balmoral Show
RUAS Communications Manager Gemma Dickey, Stacey Patterson, Patterson PR, Rachel White, Alltech Ireland Marketing manager, Aislínn Campbell, Alltech Ireland, GAJ Ireland (Northern Section) Chair Rebecca McConnell, and Sara McCracken, RSPB pictured at the RUAS reception during Balmoral Show
Richard Halloran, Tomás Cooney, Agriland’s Commercial Manager, Sara McCracken, RSPB and Agriland’s Managing Director Cormac Farrelly enjoy a catch up at the reception for GAJ at Balmoral Show
mmunications Manager Gemma Dickey with Irish Farmers’ Journal reporter Tom Morrow
Bree Rutledge and Darryl Rutledge chatting with Rachel Martin, IFAJ Delegate
RUAS President John Henning chats with News Letter editor, Ben Lowry
Basil Bayne, Liam De Paor, Brian Donaldson, Impartial Reporter and Kevin McAuley, McAuley Multimedia
RUAS President John Henning makes a speech to the GAJ members gathered on Thursday evening of the 155th Balmoral Show

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists hosted the biennial Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture in the grand setting of The K Club, Co. Kildare on November 24,2023.

The special guest speaker to deliver the lecture was former chair of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Mairead McGuinness.

The event, which was supported by Kerry Group, was well attended by AgriGuild members who had the opportunity to hear the commissioner recall her memories of Michael Dillon, the importance of agriculture now more than ever, and how she felt confident that Ireland would retain its nitrates derogation status.

McGuinness also referenced how important exports are for Ireland as an economic nation and the significance of ensuring it is on a sustainable basis both financially and environmentally.

She mentioned European soils and their degraded state during her lecture and outlined to those in attendance the enhanced gravitas agriculture now holds in the European Commission compared to times past.

Chair of the southern Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Stella Meehan welcomed guests to prestigious event and referenced the theme of ‘The Business of Agriculture’ during her address.

She explained that the ‘business of agriculture’ has never been as important as we strive to ensure food security across the world but also continue to support our rural areas and livelihoods.

Former IFAJ delegate Damien O’Reilly also addressed the gathering and participated in a questions and answers session with the commissioner. President of the All-Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Matt O’Keeffe and chair of Kerry Group, Tom Moran also addressed the event.

Pat Murphy, Kerry Group; Commissioner Mairead McGuinness; Stella Meehan, AgriGuild Chair; Tom Moran, Kerry Group

2 December 2022: The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland today announced the shortlist for the 2022 Guild Awards, sponsored by FBD.

This year’s awards will take place on Friday, 9 December, at the Killashee Hotel, Naas, Co Kildare, from 6.30pm.

Colm O’Regan will MC the awards ceremony.

Over 200 entries were received for this year’s awards and were reviewed by an independent judging panel. Congratulations to all of those shortlisted.

To RSVP, please email Elaine Keaveny, the southern secretary –

Best news article

From grain farm to server farm: Amazon buys €20m Dublin site for data centre – Thomas Hubert, The Currency

Glanbia’s founding co-op wants to do it all over again – Thomas Hubert, The Currency

Farming in wartime Ukraine – Barry Murphy, Irish Farmers Journal

Best feature article

Carving out a niche at Blackcastle Farm– Amii McKeever, Irish Farmers Journal

Beef Tribunal: special report – Ciaran Moran, Farming Independent

Farmed out – Ciaran Moran & Margaret Donnelly, Farming Independent

Best visual report

Milking 285 cows through a 50-bail rotary parlour – Michael Geary, Agriland

Viastar loads bulls for export overseas – Breifne O’Brien, Agriland

10 things to know about seaweed – New Decade TV Ltd

Best audio report

The scourge of TB – Elaine Mitchell, BBC Radio Ulster

Countrywide: soil – Damien O’Reilly

The Young Stock Podcast – Irish Farmers Journal team

Best technical article

Hit the button! – Ciaran Moran, Farming Independent

Investigating soil carbon levels on 900ha of land – Siobhán Walsh, Irish Farmers Journal

Cutting through the bull – Amii McKeever, Irish Farmers Journal

Best targeted campaign

The Footprint Farmers programme – Irish Farmers Journal team

Fit to Farm: special report – Farming Independent team

Incredible Edibles – Agri Aware

Best climate change reporting

Are we scaling back at a time when millions could go hungry? Rachel Martin, Farming Examiner

Lowering slaughter age – Adam Woods, Irish Farmers Journal

What’s the potential of geothermal energy for Irish agriculture? Kathleen O’Sullivan, Farming Examiner

Best photo

Up in smoke – Chris McCullough, Scottish Farmer

The mart – Philip Doyle, Irish Farmers Journal

Bringing the girls home – Andy Gibson, Irish Farmers Journal

Rising Star award

William Kellet, Agriland

Rachel Martin, Farming Examiner

Siobhán Walsh, Irish Farmers Journal

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland has announced the details of the 2022 Agri Guild Awards, sponsored by FBD Insurance, which will take place at the Killashee Hotel in Kildare on Friday 9 December. 

The awards, which are held every two years, aim to encourage excellence in the reporting of farming, food and rural life on the island of Ireland. 

This year’s awards feature nine categories. The ‘Rising ‘Star’ award returns to recognise an outstanding individual under the age of 35, and we have a new category in the form of best climate change reporting. 

The Guild of Agricultural Journalism Awards are open to journalists in national and local media and also to consultants in the communications sector. Each entry will be assessed and scored by an independent judging panel* from across the industry. The judging panel will be chaired by Tom McGuire, former head of RTÉ Radio One. 

Speaking about this year’s awards, Amy Forde, Chair of the southern section of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists said, “We are delighted to be able to return to an in-person awards this year, with the support of FBD Insurance. For the first time, we will have a Climate Change Reporting Award which is aimed at reflecting informative stories relating to the climate change challenge.” 

Award Categories
The nine categories for the 2022 Agri Guild awards are:   

1. Best News Article 

Entries can include written news articles published in print or online 

2. Best Feature Article 

Entries can include written feature articles published in print or online 

3. Best Visual Report 

Entries can include visual reports created for TV or online broadcast 

4. Best Audio Report 

Entries can include audio reports created for radio, podcast or online broadcast 

5. Best Technical Article 

Entries can include technical articles written for print or online

6. Best Targeted Campaign 

Entries can include targeted PR and marketing campaigns 

7. Best Climate Change Reporting 

Entries to include written, audio or visual media reports capturing accessible and informative content relating to the climate change challenge. Maximum of two entries per journalist. 

8. Best Photograph

Entries can include photographs captured to illustrate a story in print or online

9. Rising Star Award 

Entries to nominate an individual under the age of 35 who should be considered a rising star within the industry. Individuals can nominate themselves or be nominated by a third party. 

Prizes and Entry Details 

There are attractive cash prizes for the winners in all categories and the overall award, “The Bull” Bronze Trophy, plus cash prize, is presented to the category winner deemed to be of exceptional merit by the adjudicating panel. 

Each entry must have been published between 1 September 2020 – 31 August 2022 and there is a limit of two entries, per person, per category. 

For more details, or to submit an entry, please visit

The closing date for entries is Friday, 11th November 2022. 

Notes to Editor 

*Judging Panel 

Tom McGuire, former head of RTÉ Radio One (Chair) 

Richard Wright, former Agricultural Correspondent, BBC Northern Ireland 

Margaret Berry,  head of sustainability, Kepak Group

Anne-Marie Butler, head of education at Teagasc 

Tommy Boland, Professor at UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science 

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland has announced that Jack Bobo, CEO of Futurity, a US-based food foresight company will deliver the keynote address at the upcoming Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture which takes place on 8th April 2022 at The Marker Hotel in Dublin. The theme for the event, sponsored by Kerry Group, is ‘The Future of Food’ and speakers will explore what consumers will be eating in 2030 and beyond as we strive to feed our growing population in the most sustainable way.

The keynote address will be followed by a panel discussion, moderated by RTÉ’s Audrey Carville, featuring Jack Bobo; Grace Binchy, Trends & Insights Specialist, Bord Bia; and Juan Aguiriano, Head of Sustainability at Kerry Group. The panel will explore current and future consumer trends and how the drive towards more sustainable food production will impact the Irish market and Irish farmers.

Speaking about the event, Amy Forde, Southern Chair of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists said, “It is expected that by 2050 the global population will reach 10 billion people and in excess of 50% more food will need to be produced to feed everyone. Our upcoming event is going to focus on what this means for Irish farmers and food producers.

 “The Michael Dillon Memorial Lecture is always a fantastic opportunity to tap into some of the key issues facing the agriculture and food industry and provides our agri-journalists and communicators with a platform to network with industry peers. We are delighted to be hosting our first in-person event in two years and look forward to welcoming our members to the Marker Hotel in April.”

The biennial event is hosted in honour of the late Michael Dillon, one of Ireland’s foremost agricultural journalists and broadcasters and a founding member of the Irish Guild of Agricultural Journalists. Previous speakers include Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former European Commissioners Phil Hogan, Ray McSharry and Peter Sutherland (RIP).

Commenting on the upcoming lecture, Catherine Keogh, Chief Corporate Affairs and Brand Officer, Kerry Group said, “The topic of the event, “The Future of Food”, is now more important than ever before. Our food systems are currently nourishing nearly eight billion people with a significant climate and environmental impact. The food system needs to change radically to ensure that the world can feed 10 billion people in 2050. As the world’s leading sustainable nutrition company, we are delighted to be involved in this important event and I look forward to discussing how we work together to sustainably feed future generations and the important role of Irish producers in delivering these goals.”

The black-tie event is for members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. For further information visit

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland recently hosted a Climate Literacy Event, with Ali Sheridan, Independent Sustainability & Climate Advisor, presenting on key topics.

Zoe Kavanagh, CEO of the National Dairy Council and Dr. David Robbins, Assistant Professor at the School of Communications, DCU joined Ali for a panel discussion following her presentation.

The event, supported by Danone Ireland and Bord Bia, was live-streamed from the RDS.

Become a member
Working in agricultural media? Sign up to become a member of the AgriGuild today where you will have access to a network of peers and opportunities for recruitment, education and awards.