by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Students of food and agriculture at six third level colleges from across the island of Ireland will gather in Queen’s University Belfast for the 5th Annual Great Agri-Food Debate on Thursday 27th February 2020. The Debate is a joint initiative between Dawn Meats & McDonald’s and this is the first year the competition will be held in Northern Ireland, reflecting the importance of all-island dialogue in addressing some of biggest issues affecting farming today.


 

Students from Queen’s will be joined by five other third level colleges in a competitive programme of debate. University of Limerick, University College Dublin, College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Dundalk Institute of Technology and last year’s winners Waterford Institute of Technology will compete across six motions, including the final ‘Global free trade, not subsidies, will deliver a sustainable future for European agriculture’.

 

Looking to the future of agriculture, and the challenges and opportunities that it presents, is a central theme of this year’s event and students will also debate motions including;

 

  • Precision Agriculture is the only viable future to feed 10bn people
  • The gender inequality issue in the agri-food industry has been solved
  • Today’s vegan climate solutions will be the deserts of tomorrow
  • Zero waste to landfill is no big deal – waste prevention is the only conversation we should be having
  • The impact of African Swine Fever is a wakeup call for everybody on the risks associated with intensive production of protein and a further reason to encourage sustainable grass-based production system.

 

The judging panel will include Nina Prichard from McDonald’s, HE Mrs Deike Potzel, German Ambassador to Ireland, Pamela Byrne CEO Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Niall Browne CEO Dawn Meats and Dunbia, Tara McCarthy CEO Bord Bia, and representatives from the wider Agri Food industry, academia and the financial services sector.

 

Commenting, Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats said:

 

“This is the fifth year of the Great Agri-Food Debate and we’re delighted to host proceedings this time in Belfast. Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Food Security is world renowned and provides the perfect backdrop for some of the brightest young minds to debate issues of central importance to our industry north and south. This event has gone from strength to strength in the last five years and I wish all the participants well in what will be a lively and competitive series of debates, which give us all food for thought.”  

 

Commenting, Nina Prichard, Head of Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing, McDonald’s UK & Ireland said:

“We’re proud to support this year’s Great Agri Food Debate in Belfast. It’s wonderful to help deliver such a high standard of informed and impassioned debate, with students from colleges across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland participating. McDonald’s Farm Forward programme aims to shape a positive future for the agri-food sector across Ireland and the UK, we believe young people are vital to this conversation; which is why it will be so encouraging to see students debating the issues of the day and coming up with innovative solutions to some of the challenges faced.”

 

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Niall Browne, Dawn Meats CEO

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