'I've no intention of just working for the banks'
Vincent Cronin is a young dairy farmer who took over the family enterprise in Skahanagh near Bantry, Co Cork in 2013 and is at that early stage in his farming career where he is reviewing the situation - should he expand or just sit tight?
At the moment, it looks like Vincent will be sitting tight.
The 31-year-old runs a 30-strong herd of British Friesians and Holstein crosses on his 65-acre holding and is happy with the current 44c/l milk price he is receiving from the Drinagh Co-op - but it is not enough for him to up his herd numbers.
"If I was to expand now I'd have to upgrade the sheds and milking parlour and buy in new stock. It would be a huge investment and I have no intention of just working for the banks," explains Vincent.
"The economics of farming are quite uncertain these days so I won't be rushing things."
Vincent began drying off his cows last Thursday and is happy to report that he passed his Bord Bia farm inspection the day before.
Despite the vagaries of the weather this year he managed to get two silage cuts in and goes into the winter as a content farmer with plenty of bales. Positive returns will be the key to developing the farm, so Vincent will be continuing with his part-time off-farm job as a teacher with the National Learning Centre in Bantry for the foreseeable future.
He graduated from UCD with his H-Dip in his early twenties and this was followed by the usual post-grad world tour which took in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and South America before he came home in 2012.
He went on to complete his Green Cert in Clonakilty and Moorepark, after which he opted to take over the family farm from his parents, Jeremiah and Susan.
Vincent has no regrets but feels that all young farmers are in a 'Catch 22' situation at the moment with regards to Brexit and other international trade disputes which are changing the commercial rules of agriculture every other day .
Vincent takes a steady-as-you-go approach to farming and believes in taking every opportunity to increase farming knowledge.
In this context he is a firm believer in the Teagasc Farmer Discussion groups, which he attends on a regular basis in the West Cork region.
"I don't bring much to them at the moment - but I certainly get a lot from them," he says.
"It's all about making life easier on the farm."
Vincent is also a regular on various herd watch and grass measurement apps to keep up with the latest agri developments.
"Anything that helps to bring farming back to something near a 40-hour week is good by me," he laughs.
Vincent is engaged to Leah Kelly, who works as a solicitor in Bandon and their main current preoccupation is designing and building a family home on a site at the farm.
"Progress is good," says Vincent. "We are at the planning permission and mortgage stages at present and things are going well there."
Off-farm his main interest is spinning classes at the gym. It involves riding gym bikes for hours on end over any given month and in the process completing the distance of the Tour de France.
"It's hard and torture at times but it keeps you physically fit," he says.
In conversation with Ken Whelan
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