Mobile barber aims to cut beef processors down to size

Former barber Joseph Woulfe with his uncle and neighbour Alan Woulfe on his farm at Quilty in county Clare. Photograph of John Kelly.
Former barber Joseph Woulfe with his uncle and neighbour Alan Woulfe on his farm at Quilty in county Clare. Photograph of John Kelly.

A former mobile barber is spearheading an initiative to cut beef processors down to size and secure a fair price for farmers.

Joseph Woulfe, who operated a mobile barber shop for about a decade until he lost up to 175 clients through emigration, believes the new Beef Plan has the potential to revitalise rural Ireland.

He used to cut peoples’ hair in a 115 square foot spacious converted bus, which could seat eight people comfortably and also facilitated a waiting room.

With upwards of 700 Clare members joining a growing Beef Plan movement, the 36 year-old Quilty farmer is confident implementing this plan will encourage peers who have left to return home to rural parts of the county.

The small suckler operator is playing a key role in setting up a new beef cooperative that would process, package, brand and sell beef in the domestic and international market.

“I have experience setting up a business and I believe I have the skills that will help get this Beef Plan off the ground. I am well known in West Clare in Ennis having operated the first barber shop in Ennis Mart at the age of 23.

“A lot of people I know emigrated because they didn’t think it was economically viable to stay at home. I love Clare and I want to do something that will put money back in farmers’ pockets and this will in turn revitalise rural Ireland.

“Something has to be done to encourage emigrants to come home. Something has gone amiss as the price of beef has not increased in 20 years and at times is actually decreasing.

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“We can’t keep watching the closure of pubs, post offices and garda stations in rural Ireland.

“I think it is vital that farmers stand up and fight for their livelihoods and Beef Plan provides an ideal way to achieve this objective,” he said.

Buoyed by attendance of 650 farmers in total at two previous meetings in Gort and Ennis, the small suckler farmer,who will not benefit financially in a significant way if this plan is implemented, is part of an extensive recruitment drive to get even more Clare farmers on board.

This will be achieved by hosting four Beef Plan meetings throughout the county starting with the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon on March 6 at 7.30pm.

This will be followed by similar meetings in the Lakeside Hotel, Killaloe on March 13 at 7.30pm; McNamara’s Bar, Scariff on March 20 at 7.30pm and Kilrush Golf Club on March 27 at 7.30pm.

With 17,000 farmers signing up nationwide, Joseph is keen that the Banner leads the way in achieving their target of getting 40,000 members.

The proposed Beef Plan phases identify different aspects that need to be targeted, including sustainable price and factories; animal health; purchasing groups; producer groups; farm safety; government schemes; farm unions and abattoirs.

These incorporate the reform of key issues in the beef industry with the ultimate goal of establishing a farmer co-op abattoir long-term.

Depending on progress with producer groups, the Beef Plan proposes that a working group be put together as part of a longer-term plan to lease or buy an existing abattoir which would be run by a farmer co-operative.

Three years ago, Joseph took over the 40-acre family farm in Quilty following the death of his father, Charles.

In addition to qualifying in acupuncture, he is continuing his studies in Tuina massage at a college in Cork.

He previously spent eight months working as a barber in New Zealand in 2013 and 2014.

A few years ago, he set up a Facebook page called “I love Clare”, which includes photographs, videos and music from the county.

Online Editors

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