The theme of the forum will follow that of the overall event – ‘Supporting Sustainable Beef Farming’. The main issues at present for sustainable farm systems are economic viability, meeting commitments to reduce GHG and assessing the role of beef meat in sustainable human diets. These topics will be addressed by a panel of leading experts.

Ivan Yates

The forum will be moderated by Ivan Yates. Ivan was elected a Fine Gael TD for the Wexford constituency in the 1981 general election and eight subsequent elections until his retirement from politics in 2002.

He served as Minister for Agriculture Food and Forestry from 1994 to 1997. Yates began his working life as a farmer in Enniscorthy, having been an early school leaver.

He founded Celtic Bookmakers in 1988, expanding the company to an Irish and UK chain of 64 shops employing more than 400 people. Ivan moved to broadcasting in 2009, joining Newstalk where he co-presented ‘Newstalk Breakfast’.

In 2017, Ivan launched a new award-winning drive-time show on Newstalk ‘The Hard Shoulder’. On television, Ivan co-presented a new show ‘Sunday AM’ with Anna Daly prior to a three-year stint of co-presenting ‘The Tonight Show’ with Matt Cooper, both on Virgin Media One.

As a highly skilled interviewer, Ivan will ask the hard questions in what is sure to be a highly entertaining discussion.

Professor Frank O’Mara

Professor Frank O’Mara took up the position as director of Teagasc in October 2021. Professor O’Mara is an agricultural scientist and sustainable livestock systems specialist, with over 30 years experience in technical and senior managerial capacities in agri-food research, education and development institutions.

Prior to taking up the position of Teagasc director, Professor O’Mara was director of research in Teagasc, leading the research directorate. He qualified with a first-class honours B.Agr.Sc. from University College Dublin (UCD) in 1987 and went on to obtain a PhD from UCD in 1993, completing his doctorate research at Teagasc Moorepark.

In his early career, he was a senior lecturer, associate professor and researcher in UCD for 10 years, specialising in animal nutrition and animal production.

Professor O’Mara is a contributor to various national and EU committees and bodies, review panels and scientific advisory boards, and became president of the European Animal Task Force in 2020.

A leading international expert on agricultural GHG emissions, he was a lead author on the fourth assessment report of working group III of the IPCC.

Professor Alice Stanton

Professor Alice Stanton is a clinician-scientist based at the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

She serves as a member of the Irish 2030 Agri-Food Strategy Committee, Horizon Europe’s Cancer Mission Assembly, the Irish Climate and Health Coalition, the Council on High Blood Pressure of the Irish Heart Foundation, and the World Action against Salt, Sugar, and Health, and is a part-time employee of Devenish Nutrition.

She has authored 130 peer-reviewed published papers, four book chapters, four editorials, 10 reviews, and in excess of 250 abstracts, and has been the recipient of many educational and research awards. Professor Stanton was lead author of a widely publicised letter published in The Lancet medical journal last April.

The correspondence from this team of experts raised serious concerns about the reliability of the data and evidence linking the consumption of red meat to certain diseases in the most recent Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD).

Michael Biggins

Michael and his wife Bridie farm in partnership with their son Niall in Ballynalty, Glencorrib, in south Co Mayo. Michael is a full-time farmer, while Niall has a full-time, off-farm job. Michael and Niall farm 65 mainly spring-calving suckler cows on 45ha of owned land. Like many farms in Mayo, the land is fragmented and comprises of three separate land blocks.

All progeny are sold as weanlings or yearlings. The soil type is predominately a dry-mineral soil, however there is also a significant area of heavier peaty soils.

Michael and Niall are focusing on improving grassland management, soil fertility and animal breeding during the programme.

They have a keen interest in the environment and water quality. The Ballynalty River runs through their farm and flows directly into nearby Lough Corrib, the second-largest lake in Ireland. They have participated in every environmental scheme since first joining REPS over 25 years ago.

Michael is keenly aware of the income challenges, especially in this year of high input costs, as well as the environmental challenges facing drystock farmers in Mayo.

He uses his role as IFA rural development chair to highlight the needs of the farming community to meet these challenges.

Phelim O’Neill

Born and raised on, and still involved with, a small farm in Co Tyrone, Phelim O’Neill graduated in Law from Queens University Belfast and holds a Master’s in Business Strategy from Ulster University.

He joined the Irish Farmers Journal in 2015 and covers international markets and EU affairs, in particular Brexit, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and trade negotiations that impact on farming and the food industry. He spent considerable time in Brussels prior to the pandemic and hopes to do so again soon.

Prior to becoming part of the Irish Farmers Journal team, his career has been spent around the meat industry. After working in Omagh Meats in a variety of roles for 11 years, he joined the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) as head of marketing and communication. He held the role of chief executive of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA), the trade association for the meat factories in NI, prior to joining the Irish Farmers Journal.

Stakeholder involvement in BEEF 2022

BEEF 2022 will involve a host of industry stakeholders who will have a role in demonstrations and interactive discussions throughout the day.

Our main sponsors and a key stakeholder in the agri-food sector, FBD Insurance, will have a stand at the BEEF 2022 Open Day to meet attendees about their farming insurance needs.

ICBF is involved in the Signpost Farms village, where it will outline the role of breeding more efficient and lower methane-emitting cattle to reach our climate targets. It will also be present in the Future Beef Suckler village, where a demo on calving at two years of age will be a highlight.

Bord Bia plays a key role in auditing Irish beef farms so that the high standards of production can be verified and demonstrated to consumers of Irish beef products.

In recent years, this auditing process has evolved to encompass the sustainability attributes of Irish beef in the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS), the details of the audit process and the importance for marketing of Irish beef will be highlighted in the Meat Quality village.

Animal Health Ireland is a key stakeholder in Irish agriculture, having responsibility for co-ordinating herd health campaigns and managing control and eradication programmes such as the Johnes’ and BVD schemes, respectively.

AHI will be present at the Growing and Finishing Cattle village, where it will provide the latest advice on maintaining a healthy herd and outline the legislation for the purchasing of animal health products.

Personnel from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will be present in the Advisory, Education and Policy village, where, among other things, they will outline the latest findings from the TB eradication scheme. DAFM will also provide information on a new forum, the Farm Animal Welfare Network (FAWN) at the BEEF 2022 Open Day.