A farm business economist, a writer and a farming/food advisor, brought up in farming and studied at Wye College, University of London. He graduated with a First Class degree and joined the faculty at Wye. After academia he moved onto advising and working for governments, international development organizations, universities and private businesses in places as far afield as SE and Central Asia, the Caucuses, the Levant, Central Europe and the United Kingdom and now Ireland. In recent years he has worked on rural regeneration in agriculture-reliant, often remote-to-the-market, regions that are environmentally important and where it is about linking farming to high-value food products to enhance rural incomes and to preserve biodiversity-rich, farming-created landscapes. He has also been directly involved in building and managing integrated farm to food businesses. He lived for 12 years in Transylvania where he was the British Honorary Consul. Nowadays he resides in County Wexford.
Suzanna’s is from a long-standing Kilkenny family and her farm is to be found in the beautiful Nore Valley. She has also spent many years stateside including her time at the highly progressive Sterling College in Vermont. Hence, she is very aware of the North American food and family-scale farming scene. The home farm has species-rich meadows and pastures and a traditional orchard, a showcase for both products and farming ideas. Pesticides and artificial fertilizers are avoided as “progressive farmers do not require them”. Her multi-species pastures feed the soil that feeds the plants that feed the livestock, promoting animal health and performance. Suzanna also provides a leading social media interfaces between Irish farming and local and international audiences. She is a best-selling author who writes to offer insights into farming and rural life and a public speaker who is passionate about bridging the gap between rural farm communities and their urban neighbours. She is a founder of Zwartbles Sheep Association's Southern Ireland branch and Southeast Women in Farming Ireland.
Dr Peter Dunne
Hailing from a small farming and fishing background in Clogherhead, Co. Louth and a graduate of University College Dublin [specializing in Meat Science], Peter has significant experience in public and private sector research and third level teaching and training. He lectures on the Masters of Agricultural Biotechnology at Dundalk IT and has held posts at Technological University Dublin, University College Dublin, Teagasc and AHDB. He has consulted for the public and private sectors. A passionate advocate for agriculture and food, he recognizes the issues that must be addressed if traditional family farms are to remain the lynch-pin of rural communities. He believes that knowledge of the origin of food and its effects on health and on the biosphere is paramount in any discussion with citizens and consumers about the future of food. A committed and enthusiastic scientist who is also a broad-minded strategic and analytical thinker, he brings myriad perspectives to bear in identifying the path forward.
James Foley, a native of County Waterford, completed his degree in Agricultural Science at UCD in 2000. Continuing the family tradition, he has been farming full time since. He has established a new family farm focusing on dairying, but he also has significant experience in tillage and beef. Over the years he has become acutely aware of the threat to his farm’s viability from being a primary producer at the foot of a commodity-milk supply chain. He is now exploring the options to regain his business independence by adding value to his milk and by reducing the farm’s dependence on milk sales. He has also begun to convert the farm to herbal leys and to significantly broaden the species diversity in his pastures. His aims to reduce the farm’s need for purchased inputs and to improve animal and financial performance. The evolution of his own family farm has led to James becoming an advocate for regenerative farming and route to market reform and the need for new government policies to support both.
Dr Pippa Hackett
Pippa Hackett has a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Essex, a postgraduate diploma from University College Dublin, and a PhD from the University of Limerick. She and her husband Mark manage the family’s mixed organic farm (suckler cows, sheep, hens and horses) in County Offaly. By operating an organic farming system, they are able to focus on a quality product while minimizing costs. This and their choice of breeds simplifies the management while maintaining the farm’s profitability. Away from the home farm, Pippa is a County Councillor for Offaly and the Green Party’s spokesperson for Agriculture, Heritage, Food and Animal Welfare. As both an active farmer and a rising Green Party politician, Pippa is uniquely positioned in Ireland to close the gap that too often exists between the farming and green lobbies. It is a gap that must be swiftly eliminated if rural Ireland, its communities and its family farms are to thrive and its lost biodiversity and degraded environments completely restored.