Loughgall Farmer, Matthew Brownlee has been named The Co-Operative Food’s Outstanding Farmer of the Year at a gala awards ceremony in Manchester.

Matthew aged 24, who began a beef finishing and suckler enterprise in 2012, beat off competition from farmers across the UK to take the title; a fantastic achievement for a young farmer which highlights the positive future of farming.

Jim Dobson, Dunbia’s Chief Executive congratulated Matthew on his achievement: “Matthew is an exceptional young farmer who has changed the focus of the traditional family farm and turned it into a very successful beef enterprise in just three years and is now supplying Dunbia with over 650 prime cattle a year.  He is extremely forward-thinking and progressive, constantly looking at ways to improve the profitability of his operation.  He really is an Outstanding Farmer and I am delighted that he has been recognised nationally by The Co-operative Food.”

Matthew recently joined the Dunbia Dairy Calf to Beef Scheme which links the dairy and beef industries to create a short-integrated supply chain which will provide a consistent and sustainable supply of quality beef.   Through the scheme, Matthew buys 12-week-old calves from Dunbia’s approved calf rearers, Gary Fitzpatrick and John Toland and takes them through to finishing and processing by Dunbia.

“The Dunbia Dairy Calf to Beef Scheme is key to establishing a sustainable supply chain to meet the demands of our customers,” adds Kenny Linton, Dunbia Agriculture Manager.  “The scheme has animal health, welfare and nutrition at its core and guarantees that calves reared within the scheme are of the highest possible quality.  Anyone interested in joining the scheme, should contact me at Dunbia.”

Matthew is a key supplier to the Co-operative’s Truly Irresistible Hereford range.  Congratulating him on his award, Ciara Gorst, Senior Agricultural Manager, The Co-operative Food, commented: “Matthew’s standard of farming, his ambition to succeed and his willingness to share knowledge are exceptional.  He is a perfect example of the need to encourage and develop young farmers as they are the leaders of the future. On behalf of The Co-operative I am delighted that Matthew has been awarded Outstanding Farmer of the Year.”