'My farm would not be viable only for my wife's off-farm income'
My week: Thomas Shannon
If the European Union abolishes or makes cuts to the single farm payment, that would be the end of farming in the west of Ireland as we know it, says Clare farmer Thomas Shannon.
The suckler farmer from Lissycasey believes the economics of running a small to medium farming enterprise has forced the younger generation off the land in search of more secure and better paid jobs in our cities and towns.
"There have been big changes in farming down the years and all the young people now want to work off the land. There was a time if you walked up any country boreen, you would have three or four houses occupied but now you are lucky to have one house occupied," says the 68-year-old.
And Thomas adds that his own 75ac farm would not be viable without his wife Josephine's off-farm income. The couple's sons, Gerard and Kieran, also work off farm.
"Gerard is a mechanic and runs a garage in the Lissycasey area, and Kieran is off working in Dublin. Neither are showing any interest in returning to run the farm but you never know," says Thomas. However, the two Shannon daughters, Sheila and Deirdre, are married to farmers in Co Clare.
"We have discussed who might take over the farm on occasions but the lads are showing no great interest. And the girls are off on their own farms.
"I am not saying the subject hasn't been discussed but you never know. You never know," says Thomas.
He took over the family farm in the 1970s when it was being run as a dairy enterprise supplying milk to Dairygold and later to the Kerry group.