Waterford IT were crowned winners of the 7th Annual Great Agri-Food debate, organised by Dawn Meats and McDonald’s.
Seven third level colleges and one industry group took part in the event this year, with Ireland’s Munster Technological University (MTU) and Loughborough University from the UK being new additions to the 2022 bill. This year also saw the first time an industry body has participated, with McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmers (PYF) taking part. Loughborough University (LU) were the second third level institution from outside the island of Ireland to participate, following the University of Aberystwyth in 2021.
The three new entrants were joined by University College Dublin (UCD), University of Limerick (UL), Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CARFE), and last year’s winners Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
The debates took place virtually, as they did in 2021, with this enabling wider participation in what has become a calendar moment for students studying agriculture related subjects.
They were moderated and judged by a range of representatives from the agrifood industry and beyond, including Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bia, Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats, Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive of FSAI, Brendan Gleeson, Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Tim Rycroft, CEO of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
This is WIT’s third title in just four years, previously winning last year when proposing the motion “lab grown meats will not replace traditional livestock farming systems”.
In the first debate, newcomers Progressive Young Farmers were up against CAFRE on the topic of ‘Regenerative agriculture is the future of farming’, with CAFRE opposing and PYF proposing the motion.
Debate number two saw two-time winners and reigning champions Waterford IT take on newcomers Loughborough University in a baptism of a fire for the team from Leicestershire. They went head-to-head on the topic of ‘Organic Beef Farming at scale will not deliver a viable return on investment’, with LU opposing and WIT proposing.
In the third debate 2020 semi-finalists Dundalk Institute of Technology took on newly formed Munster Technological University on the subject of ‘Red meat is essential as part of a nutritionally balanced diet’. A fiercely topical motion, DkIT opposed with MTU proposing.
Four-time winners, most recently in 2020, University College Dublin took on University of Limerick in the hotly anticipated motion of ‘British and Irish agriculture is diverse and inclusive’. One of the highlights of the four days of debating, UCD were proposing with UL opposing
WIT, UCD, DkIT and PYF all recorded wins in their individual debates and after careful deliberation, the judging panel crowned WIT as 2022’s winners.
The individual Best Speakers in each debate were:
• Jake Delaney, Waterford IT
• Ciara Cox, University College Dublin
• Isla Soutter, Progressive Young Farmers
• Sarah Armstrong, Dundalk Institute of Technology
Commenting Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats said:
“This year saw some of the most well-accomplished debating which the Great Agrifood Debate has witnessed since its inception. It has been excellent to continuously add new talent and perspectives to the competition, and I thank Progressive Young Farmers, Munster Technological University and Loughborough University for their participation. After an incredibly close fought battle, Waterford IT can be proud of their win.”
Commenting, Tara McCarthy, CEO Bord Bia, said:
“I am proud to have once again been part of the Great Agri-Food debate and hear the insightful opinions of our future leaders in the agri-food sector. This event is a valuable opportunity for students to really stretch themselves, and further develop transferable skills of critical thinking, problem solving and impactful communication. These are important qualities and vital to the future success of our food, drink and horticulture sector. My congratulations to Waterford IT, after some thought provoking and robust debating.”