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Four Irish co-ops are among the 18 finalists shortlisted in the European Awards for Co-operative Innovation.

Organised every three years by COGECA, the European Association of Agri-Co-operatives, the awards feature leading co-operatives from across the EU and recognises their outstanding innovations which are creating economic, social and environmental added value, amongst their members, in their communities and in their local environment.

The Irish co-operative organisations shortlisted include:

Dairygold Co-operative, for its Sustainability Bonus Payment, in the “Economic Value Creation – Support to Farmer Members” Category. The focus of this initiative is improving herd health and increasing herd productivity through the promotion and facilitation of milk recording among farmers and encouraging their participation in a herd health programme.

Farm Relief Service (FRS) Network, for its Member Benefit Scheme, in the “Social Value Creation” Category. The FRS scheme offers subsidised skilled labour in the event of an accident or sickness of the main family farm operator, providing protection to ensure that their business can continue to operate effectively in any such event.

Glanbia Co-operative, for its Twenty20 Beef Club, again in the “Economic Value Creation – Support to Farmer Members” Category. This is an innovative model of dairy calf-to-beef production, which combines a guaranteed market and premium pricing, with a technical support programme and advanced payment options to assist farmers with cash flow.

The National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS), for their Source Protection Pilot Project, in the Category of “Environment Value Creation – Natural Resources and Biodiversity”. The project involves the examination of water quality and impacting factors. It works with farmers and the wider public to raise awareness of source protection and the impact of pesticides both on water and biodiversity.

To have four Irish co-operatives shortlisted for these flagship awards, among the top co-operatives from across Europe, highlights the quality of Irish co-operative innovation and delivery in the interests of their members. The initiative also highlights the concrete investments that are being made by co-operatives and their prioritisation of environmental, climate and animal welfare considerations, all of which are key pillars of our future sustainability.

The winners of the awards will be announced in early summer.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive