A word from our sponsors

Written by Admin on . Posted in Uncategorized

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The Guild would like to once again thank FBD for its sponsorship of the 2016 Awards. It was a very successful event and the strength of entries reflects the importance of our role as communicators in this area. We would also like to thank Fiona Muldoon, CEO of FBD for her very kind words, which you can read below.
Good evening everyone,
I’m delighted to be here to welcome you tonight.
This year marks our inaugural sponsorship of these awards and what a year it has been for agri and farming stories.   As you know the late Paddy O’Keeffe, was instrumental in both the establishment of FBD Insurance and it was Paddy’s leadership and lifelong commitment to the advancement of Irish agriculture, through research and education, that established the philanthropic ethos of the FBD Trust over 45 years ago.  Similarly, he founded with Larry Sheedy, Steve Tracey and others the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland, bringing like-minded professionals together to represent the interests of Irish agricultural journalists on an all-island basis.
It is the case that the agricultural industry in Ireland, is as important to Ireland’s economy and as relevant today as it was back then in the 1960s.  However both agriculture & journalism have changed immeasurably in that time too.   It is still the role of agricultural journalism to inform and to ensure that the changing nature of agriculture is understood, educates and informs its readership, whether that is the grassroots, the policy maker or the industry.  Its influence on policy choice and events is clearly evident as we look to the themes that dominate in the stories nominated this year.   Indeed journalists breaking agri-business news, is something I have had some direct experience of in my own short time in FBD, frequently during 2015, I was reading the news as it was happening in real-time so good were some of your sources!
So having been on the receiving end of what I will call your professional enthusiasm for a good story during our own issues in Summer of 2015, why does FBD sponsor such an award?  Well, the FBD Trust funds research and education initiatives to benefit Irish farming and to promote the sustainable future growth of Irish agriculture.  Through the Trust, we feel we ‘give back’ and  reciprocate the customer loyalty of Irish farmers and Ireland’s agricultural community.
Previous Guild Award winners like Gavin Grace of Clare FM radio (nominated again this year, I see) whose coverage of the fodder crisis in 2013 brought a strong voice of support to farmers at a crucial time. His is an example of someone taking a leadership role at a time of national crisis.    FBD also responded to this crisis by teaming up with the IFA, the Farmer’s Journal and others to set up a fund of €1M to provide a transport subsidy for importing feed during the worst fodder crisis in living memory.
It is FBD’s purpose to be there for farmers when things go wrong. During Storm Darwin 7,000 farmers received claim settlements from FBD for wind damage to their property at a cost of €44m.  And in relation to one of the items to feature prominently in the nominations for awards this year, the winter floods, we paid out over €13m in 2015.  FBD continues to provide flood cover for farmhouses when many in these areas are struggling to obtain insurance cover.
Of course over the years, Journalism has changed a lot and this change has certainly accelerated in recent years,  The nature of the job has probably become more difficult in many ways and certainly it is more immediate now in this digital age.  With many of the younger generation believing that ‘news’ is or should be free, it is now your industry’s challenge to respond to that all the while building sustainable business models that afford journalists the space, time and opportunity to explain the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ in an often complex noisy world where the end reader can struggle to decide whose narrative of a story or event is to be relied upon.   Awards like these remind us that these challenges around news and news delivery and its future business model do not in any way decrease journalism’s value or its importance in education, information and influence on industry, and on policy makers.  I know that while many of the events that have shaped this year’s nominated stories and articles have been uncomfortable for many in our industry and many farmers, that is maybe as it sometimes should be with good journalism.  So we may belly ache a bit but, good quality reliable journalism has never been more important or more necessary.  As Irish farming and agriculture face the profound economic uncertainty of Brexit and indeed whatever other future slings and arrows trading in the global economy throws the way of a small open-economy island nation,  it is good to take a moment to celebrate that the industry is in good hands.   Thanks to all of you, farmers in Ireland are very well served by the media.   The calibre of nominations entered for these awards and the seriousness of the stories, their impact on our industry reflects well on you.   I congratulate you on your nomination, but without further ado, let us get to the real news and why we are gathered tonight.  Over to Colm O’Regan to announce the winners.
Thank you very much and enjoy your evening.