Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

'It's a great life - I am my own boss' - 27-year- old on why he's happy with farming as a career

My week: Tom O'Donoghue

Tom O'Donoghue on the family farm in Cappoquin, Co Waterford. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Tom O'Donoghue on the family farm in Cappoquin, Co Waterford. Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Ken Whelan

Tom O'Donoghue was elected vice president of Munster Macra last week and the 27-year- old reckons the office will take up most of his spare time over the coming two years.

"I was elected last Tuesday unopposed and will be ratified at the upcoming AGM in Drumshambo in May," says Tom who has been involved in the organisation since he was a teenager.

"I'm delighted. I will give it my best shot - 110pc," says the young dairyman.

Tom farms with his father Willie and mother Mary at the home place at Cappoquin, Co Waterford.

The farm has been in the O'Donoghue name since the 1740s. They run a herd of Holstein-Friesan crosses on the 110ac farm and also work a 20ac out farm and 40ac of gorse.

The herd produced 412,000 litres of milk for Glanbia from 77 cows last year and the family expect the herd to hit 500,000 litres this year.

Tom is happy enough with the milk price the farm is getting at the moment - 31c/l before bonuses. "Prices are good but they could become uncertain with Brexit down the line. I hope the Government is prepared for these talks," he says.

No one knows what the impact of Brexit will be but a real-life blight on the landscape are the deer who ramble into the O'Donoghue paddocks from the nearby forests.

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"They are a problem. They would live in our paddocks if you let them. We are surrounded by forestry and it is not unusual to wake up in the morning to see a dozen of them grazing away on a paddock that we had set aside for the cows.

"They are permanently around the place eating the grass we are keeping for the herd," says Tom.

Deer aside, Tom, who graduated from Kildalton with a dairy science qualification, enjoys his farming. "I am doing what I know and it is a great life. You are your own boss," he says.

If he has any quibbles about farming as a career it concerns taxation policy as it relates to farm investments.

"If you sell plc shares or some land and you intend to put the money back into the farm you are levied at the 33pc Capital Gains Tax. It is simply unfair and the Government have to take another look at such taxes especially when the money is going back into the business," he says.

Off farm, Tom is kept busy with Macra and is also involved in local amateur dramatics - not that the two are in any way related he stresses.

How would he describe his acting abilities,I ask.

"I like to think I am very good," comes the reply.

He was up for an award at a Macra festival in Dungarvan last year but his impressions of Joan Burton, Daithí Ó Sé and a person he describes as an "American" received plaudits as did his performance in a local amateur dramatic group's production of John B Keane's Big Maggie.

And like every Waterford man he supports the Déise but admits that his youthful skills on the field suggested that farming was his best option.

But for now Tom's main priorities are developing the family dairy farm and working flat out for Macra.

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