Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

'We had a positive meeting with the Commissioner'

My week: Thomas Duffy

Thomas Duffy on the family farm in Maghera, Co Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Thomas Duffy on the family farm in Maghera, Co Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Ken Whelan

Ned Duffy has been absent on leave at the family's 130 acre dairy farm beside Maghera, Co Cavan having finally decided to get something done with his dodgy knee.

He injured his knee when dismounting from his tractor and like many farmers in Ireland he vowed to get it checked "next week" - but that "next week" was two years ago.

Ned is in fine form after recent treatment in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry but it will be another six weeks before he is running around the farm so he asks me to have the chin wag with his son, Thomas, who is running the enterprise at the moment.

Thomas, a masters graduate from the UCD School of Agriculture and a part-time GLAS adviser, is just back from Brussels where he took part in a Macra delegation meeting the EU Commission and Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, to discuss young farmer issues.

The 25-year-old says there may be some developments shortly on the Old Young Farmers basic payment problems with suggestions that the discrimination against the 3,000 or so Irish farmers affected by the basic payment anomalies may be addressed under the TAMS scheme.

"We had a positive meeting with the commissioner and I'd say something will be done for the old young farmers in TAMS. The commission is also looking at the five year rule and the definitions of a young farmer and an active farmer within the CAP rules and they may be more flexible under Pillar 2 of TAMS," Thomas reveals.

Things are flying on the farm at the moment with the second cut of silage nearly wrapped up and another top up of nitrogen being applied for a third cut in the autumn. "It has bulked up well and is high quality," Thomas says.

The Duffys run the "Virginia herd" - a mostly pedigree Holstein herd with some Jerseys and Norwegian Reds in the mix.

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They are very happy with their breeding programme this year: "72pc of the heifers scanned are in calf and we have had five repeats. We will be scanning the rest over the next few weeks."

Thomas explains they use AI and run an Angus bull among the herd.

"Not bad this year. We are happy with the fertility programme," Thomas adds.

Their milk goes to Lakeland - with averages of 3.35pc protein and 3.75pc butterfat and - in volume terms - averages "19 litres a day per unit", Thomas explains after consulting the farm's computer.

Apart from the busy times on the farm, Thomas and the family are flat out as part of the team behind the Virginia Agricultural show which features the prestigious Diageo Baileys Cow Competition.

The Duffys have been involved in the show for years.

Mother, Kathleen, has been a show stalwart for years now and is on the management team of the new Virginia event centre which was opened by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, last year. Daughter, Kaye (28), a teacher in Laytown, has been a part of the press and public relations team at the show for some time now.

Thomas will be helping out on the animal care and general functions at the show.

All and all a busy time at Maghera and most probably Ned will be back in action and able to attend the ' knees up' after the August 24 show - though whether he will be able to trip the light fantastic will depend on the state of his knee.

Indo Farming