Business Farming

Tuesday 27 September 2016

'Dairying is the only game in town'

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

Visitors making their way up the 950ft climb to the Creedon's milking platform. Photo: Donal O'Leary
Visitors making their way up the 950ft climb to the Creedon's milking platform. Photo: Donal O'Leary

The Creedon farm epitomises many of the challenges that face farmers in marginal areas - regions that Conor feels are hanging on by their finger-tips.

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"I think dairying is the only thing keeping the countryside going in this area - its certainly the only game in town in this area of Sliabh Luachra, but there's just not enough young blood coming into the sector," he said.

Crucially, he feels that processors need to become much more proactive about the issue.

"I don't think the processors realise how serious the situation is at all. All their three and five year surveys show that cow numbers and production are going to go up, but sure that's a given for us to maintain a living out of it.

"The real question is who's following on in 10 and 15 years - most have no successor.

"And it could be an even bigger problem for the processor than for the individual. If a son or daughter decides that they've a better opportunity elsewhere, good for them.

"But if the processor is left with a load of under-utilised stainless steal because there's no one producing milk, that would be a massive waste of money and lost economic opportunity," said Creedon.

Instead, Creedon feels that there should be more examples of alternative farming structures show-cased for farmers.

Indeed, he utilises the services of a retired farmer to herd his replacements daily on the outfarm, saving him at least one hour of travel every day.

"Farmers that want to retire and haven't a child taking over shouldn't feel that they have to get out of farming - it often suits them better to move sideways where they are still involved but without the same hours or responsibility.

Contract rearing and share-farming are just two examples, but the possibilities are endless."

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