‘The farming keeps me fit enough to play midfield’

Trevor Kelly on his farm in Roscommon.
Trevor Kelly on his farm in Roscommon.

Ken Whelan

Trevor Kelly has shelved plans to increase his suckler herd until the Forgotten Young Farmer issue is finally resolved by the Department of Agriculture. It’s purely a euro and cents issue because  the lack of a farm payment limits his chances of expanding his livestock farm at Trien outside Castlerea in Co Roscommon.

He is underwhelmed by efforts so far from the Government and the farm organisations to resolve the payment anomalies within the current Common Agricultural Policy which have seen up to 2,000 young farmers stranded without full farm payments.

“It would take about €10m from the current CAP budget to solve the issue and help the Forgotten Young Farmers but all we get from the politicians and farm organisations are promises which are never kept. We are being shafted,” says the 38-year-old.

“If any farming emergency occurs in the dairy or tillage sectors there is money made available from the CAP funds to deal with the problems. I don’t grudge them the emergency money but why can’t the Government and Department of Agriculture find the money within the CAP budget to solve our problem,” he says.

Trevor, who describes himself as a “farmer since I was a nipper”, took over the family farm from his parents Thomas and Mairead just over 10  years ago. It was a small 20 acre holding back then but it’s a 50 acre enterprise now, with a further 35 acres rented.

The land varies from good to heavy and is across seven blocks which are two and a half miles apart. So there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing for Trevor to keep his livestock ticking over.

He completed his Green Cert in Roscommon, but such is the level of disappointment about where he finds himself on the farm payment league that he regards this qualification as “not worth the paper it is written on”.

Like all the Forgotten Farmers he has played by the rules but because of age and qualifying year criteria he has fallen through the bureaucratic cracks in the CAP system. 

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Trevor had intended to increase the size of his suckler herd of Belgian Blues, Limousins and Charolais to 35 this year, but has put these ambitions on hold until he is in receipt of a full farm payment from the CAP budget.

He does, however, intend to finish bulls in the herd at 16 months, which is a new departure from his normal farming routine.

“If I had the farm payment I would be able to expand. Otherwise I would be using my own money and if you were to fall behind on the repayments the banks wouldn’t be slow in taking everything off you,” he adds.

Trevor, who is single, is happy with the prices he is getting for his livestock at the local marts in Castlerea, Elphin and Roscommon.

But they are not so generous that he can abandon his full-time weekday work as a head butcher with the SuperValu outlet in his home town.

He was a butcher since before taking over and expanding the home farm and says between the supermarket and the farm he is effectively doing two full-time jobs.

Off farm his main interests centre on his local gun club and his continuing career as a midfielder with the Castlerea Celtic soccer club.

“I enjoy playing football with the club and the farming keeps me fit enough to continue playing in midfield,” he says

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