Farmer back milking cows in his town centre farm 30 minutes after topping local election poll
Dairy farmer and Fine Gael councillor Willie Aird was back milking cows on his farm in the centre of Portlaoise 30 minutes after results were announced that he topped the poll in the town’s local election.
Mr Aird who was first elected to the council in 1979 at the age of 19 has topped the poll for the last four consecutive elections. He told the Farming Independent that he was keen to get back to milking his 100 cow dairy herd which is located on the town side of O’ Moore Park.
“The results were delayed yesterday. The first count results didn’t happen until around 7pm, so a half an hour later I was back milking cows in the yard. I couldn’t keep them waiting any longer,” said Mr Aird.
“Silage has to be done this week too, we put it off especially because of the elections.”
While developers have come knocking over the years trying to tempt Mr Aird to sell the 40c acres of land he has in the town centre, he says he will never sell and loves farming in the town.
“We’ve been farming for four generations in the town. We used to bring the cows across the road until the shopping centre was built but we’ve stopped that now. I zero graze land across the road and we have land elsewhere too,” says the Laois man who farms with his wife Ann-Marie.
“It’s biodiversity within the town- that’s what I was telling people when I was out canvassing. The practicalities of it work for us. Developers kept trying to get us out during the boom but we are still here and will never leave.”
Families and children regularly stop by to look and wave at the cows in the field, according to Mr Aird who said that he represents both the urban and rural sides of Portlaoise.
“I live in the town but I farm so I think that helped me get over the line and do so well. It is an urban town and expanding a lot but the rural element is still very important.”
From canvassing over the last number of weeks, Mr Aird says that young people are very concerned about the environment and that Brexit is the biggest issue among farmers.
“It’s a shame because of Brexit and beef prices that traditional top class beef farmers feel they have to switch to dairying as they feel beef offers them no future.
“I’m determined to fight for these farmers like I have for the last forty years.”
The councillor said his young entrance in to politics was inspired by his grandfather and namesake, William Aird who served as a TD during the sixth Dail for Cumann na nGaedheal.
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