'The distributors and middle men make as much as the farm'
ONE farmhouse cheese maker is facing a dilemma familiar to many farmers throughout the country.
Expansion is on the cards for Eamonn Lonergan of Knockanore Cheese in Co Waterford. However, at 57, Eamonn said the next phase of their expansion will depend on his children making a decision to come back to the farm.
He likely successor in the business is his son Edward who is currently on a visa working holiday in San Francisco after completing his accountancy studies with PWC.
Eamonn, who also studied accountancy in his earlier years, has been producing his smoked cheese at Ballyneety, near Lismore, Co Waterford from a single herd since the 1980s.
They produce around 30t to 40t with about 90pc of the milk produced by his 120 Holstein-Friesian with the remainder of the milk going to Glanbia.
"When I started the cheese business in the '80s the labour costs were my own. It was a question of 'one man and a bit' to take care of the herd then. Now it's different," he said. "There are the environmental issues such as the costs of dealing with slurry to consider."
However, he said that due to the buoyant market for Irish cheeses at home and abroad they will more than likely have to expand.