'Ploughing is more popular than hurling around here'
Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30
The last thing that World Ploughing Championship medallist John Whelan needs to see is a VAT demand from Revenue as he makes the transition from being a tillage farmer of years standing to the dairy sector.
What seemed a good idea when the market for barley went over a cliff a few years ago has turned a little bumpy but like any good ploughman, he is going to plough on regardless.
John farms 250ac at Gusserane about 10 miles from New Ross and, during his tillage days, he built up some reputation in the field in the reversible class.
"It's pure ploughing territory. Ploughing is more popular than hurling around here. It's all tillage and vegetables here," says John, with Eamonn Treacy another ploughing champion living in the neighbouring county.
He is riding the crest of a furrow at the moment after winning silver at last year's World Championships and also winning European and Irish titles in the reversible ploughing discipline
Next up are this year's World Ploughing Championships in York next September followed by the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore where his 16-year-old son, Stephen, will be making his debut in the junior classes.
But that's the pastime - the full-time occupation is the dairy herd of over 200 high EBI 'black and whites' who produce around 1.1m litres of milk for Glanbia.
John began working with his uncle when he left school and while they always had some livestock at Gusserane the enterprise was pure tillage until it simply wasn't making sufficient profits to persevere with barley.