Monday 26 September 2016

The award-winning farmer who doesn't own a single acre

Published 08/06/2015 | 02:30

Noel McCall with his wife Louise and children Lauren, Josh and Kimmy in Blainroe, Co Wicklow
Noel McCall with his wife Louise and children Lauren, Josh and Kimmy in Blainroe, Co Wicklow

The superlevy fine arrived on the doormat of Noel McCall's Wicklow farm last week.

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It's just one of the many reasons that the 39-year-old dairy farmer is looking forward to the post-quota era.

The €69m sting in the quota tail for those who delivered more milk than permitted to the creameries has been diluted down to farmers - with Noel facing a bill of €3,500, split over three years.

He's one of the younger generation of farmers who've been steadily building up their businesses with an eye on the new market.

However, Noel, whose wife Louise was among his biggest supporters when he was recently voted the Zurich Farming Independent Farmer of the Year, is unusual in that he doesn't own an acre and didn't learn the ropes from a family member. He studied agriculture and worked for other dairy farmers before leasing a farm in 2005 at Kilpoole Lower, outside Wicklow town, from a retiring farmer.

He recently signed a long-term lease. "It suited him, and it suited me," he said.

He pointed out that the post-quota era was delivering major opportunities for farmers - but one eye must always be kept on the finances.

"You haven't got the luxury of just going to buy stuff anymore, it has to make financial sense. I'd be very cautious about borrowing more money to invest - I'd wait to see if it pans out."

At the moment, Noel, like many farmers, is playing a waiting game.

Irish Independent

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