'I am not a fan of the factories' - The first IFA female county chair on what's what on the farming agenda

Elizabeth Ormiston runs a suckler farm in Co Cavan and is the Chairperson of the local IFA committee.
Elizabeth Ormiston runs a suckler farm in Co Cavan and is the Chairperson of the local IFA committee.

Ken Whelan

Elizabeth Ormiston is a suckler farmer from Mullagh in Co Cavan and the first IFA female county committee chairperson in the country.

The 57-year-old runs a herd of dry stock and Simmentals on her 70-acre farm, and sells them mainly through the marts: "I am not a fan of the factories. I prefer the marts," is her golden ­selling rule, and it has worked out well for her.

"I sold 12 heifers at Carnaross before Christmas and got exceptional prices - €1,510 for a 650kg heifer and similar prices for the others," she says happily.

Elizabeth was guided on all matters farming by her late father Peter who emigrated to the United States for eight years in the 1960s.

"When he would return home for his holidays, he always used to quote President Kennedy's views on farm economics.

"He would always ask if the farmers of Cavan were still buying their inputs and animals at retail prices and selling the end product at wholesale prices, and still wondering how to make up the difference," Elizabeth recalls.

The economics of farming are to the front of her thoughts as Cavan IFA chairperson and she does not intend to waste any time in letting the Minister for ­Agriculture, Michael Creed, know what's what on the farming agenda.

It's a long list which starts with paying GLAS and TAMS payments on time.

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Elizabeth also believes the next CAP budget must be maintained at current levels and she also says action must be taken to end the imbalance in the distribution of the CAP funds which sees larger ­farmers getting up to 80pc of the total available monies.


Elizabeth also advocates the reintroduction of a REPS scheme and sorting out the pricing imbalance in the marketplace which sees the primary producers of the country's Sunday roasts and steaks only getting 21pc of the price which the Irish ­consumers have to pay for their food.

Elizabeth has been running the family farm since her ­husband Philip passed away.

The couple reared five ­children: Peter (35), who farms nearby; PJ, (30) who works with the Anglo Irish Refrigeration Company; Rosemary (32), a deputy head teacher in nearby Moynalty; Eleanor (28), who is pursuing a degree in Edinburgh before going to New Zealand this summer; and Ruth (24), who is working in the care sector.

Elizabeth is passionate on the subject of farm safety and with good reason.

Her eldest son, Peter, had parts of four fingers severed in a tractor accident when he was only three years of age.

Elizabeth herself ended up in intensive care in 2003 when a heifer she was loading at the farm became unruly and shook the trailer so much that she was hit on the head by the frame and knocked out.

"Much, much more has to be done by the authorities about farm safety," she stresses

Off farm, her main interests are Sudoku and playing cards. Poker, I venture to ask, to which she replies: "No, no. I am a poor farmer. No we play 25s five nights a week. We raised €1,900 for the local school at a recent tournament."

In conversation with Ken Whelan

Indo Farming