'Farmers across Europe are all battling the same problems'

My Week... Alan Jagoe

Alan Jagoe and his daughter Laura pictured on the family farm near Minane Bridge, Carrigaline, Co Cork. Photo: Clare Keogh
Alan Jagoe and his daughter Laura pictured on the family farm near Minane Bridge, Carrigaline, Co Cork. Photo: Clare Keogh

Ken Whelan

Alan Jagoe is looking forward to some quality time with his young family and some development time on the home farm in Carragaline in Co Cork when he steps down this week as president of CEJA, the European young farmers' lobby group.

There isn't a vacant spot on his passport since he became active on young farmer issues over six years ago. In the intervening years he has been everywhere from Europe to America and beyond.

He says he'll miss his hectic CEJA schedule which ends this Thursday, July 6, though he most certainly will not miss the hours on the motorway driving from Cork to Dublin.

"It's been hectic but rewarding. I have worked with all sorts of young farmers across Europe. Here we think of farms purely in terms of dairy, beef and a bit of tillage but there are some fantastic farmers across Europe producing olives, rice and beans and other crops. And like ourselves, they all have the same problems in terms of agricultural training, farm credit and generational renewal," says Alan.

"I hand over the presidency of CEJA this week and there has hardly been a week over the past few years when I was not way from the home farm - and sometimes I was away all week on either Macra or CEJA business," says the 35-year-old Corkman.

So, what's on his immediate agenda, I ask the farm activist, who runs his 400 acre dairy farm in partnership with his parents, Eddie and Agnes, a contract nurse, and his brother Gordon (28).

"Quality family time with the family," is the reply.

Alan is married to Helen, who hails from a farming background and they have two young children - two-year-old Laura and six-month-old Amy.

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"I'll be seeing if Helen will get the two mares she uses for jumping off the farm but I don't think I'll have much success there," he jokes.

"And we have bought an adjoining drystock farm and there will be development work to be done on it to bring it into the milking platform. The long-term plan is to split the entire holding between myself and the brother."

Is he happy with the milk price? "Well, we are getting around 35c/l, which is okay but that's after two bad years where we had to over carry debt. Something has to be done about providing a guaranteed floor price for milk."

He is optimistic about the future of Irish agriculture, pointing out that, unlike in other European countries, we actually have a defined plan for the sector in the Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 programmes. Alan believes we have the training and educational infrastructure to meet the targets in both programmes.

And he is also confident that the current EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan is on the button with his thinking about generational farm transfers.

Away from the farm, his interests centre on horse racing and, of course, all forms of football.

But you just know his main interest is farming and he has no intention of allowing his experience of the past few years go to waste.

He remains a member of the Teagasc board and of the Agri Aware organisation, where he says he intends to continue to promote the cause of the younger farmers and farming in general.

Indo Farming

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