This is the first My Farming Life profile and the farmer we have chosen to kick off this new piece is Laois IFA chairman Francie Gorman.
Francie is a Spink/Ballinakill native is suckler beef and sheep farmer as well as farming all his life, he is also heavily involved in the IFA.
What made you take the path of farming?
My parents had a big influence on what I did. They encouraged me to take the farming path. We had a butcher’s business as well, so really I never saw myself doing anything else.
Where did you acquire your farming knowledge?
The base of my farming knowledge I learned from my father, he passed on anything he knew. I did the Green Cert when I finished school up in Warrenstown in Meath. We were one of the very first classes to do the Green Cert at the time.
Have you got a degree or qualification outside farming, or if not, what would you like do if you were not a farmer?
I have no qualifications other than the Green Cert, and I don’t think I could see myself doing anything else other than farming. But if I had to pick something I suppose I’d be a beef baron, or banker, or I think property tycoon/developer would be great. They all seem to be well looked after regardless.
What are your favourite aspects of farming?
Being my own boss is great, I work for myself and no one else which I think is the great thing about farming. Working with animals is another thing I really enjoy.
What is your least favourite aspect of farming?
Nowadays, I think the responsibility of meeting targets in farming is difficult, especially in an era of tightening margins.
What more can be done to improve farming in Laois and Ireland?
Put a big canopy over the country!! The main thing that can be done to improve farming around the country is to reduce the cost of doing business. There are too many taxes now for self-employed people and also the carbon taxes are a big burden on farmers.
Do you think farming is sustainable as a full-time job, or do you think farmers need an outside income to keep going forward?
Farming is sustainable and it has to continue to be sustainable as a full-time job. Otherwise, we won’t have farming in the long-term future and that would damaging in Ireland.
What is your daily routine on the farm?
I wake around half six or seven and go check on the livestock and feed them. I come back in then and get the young lad, Tom, ready and out to school. Then I’m back home and I hit the phone then trying to sort out IFA-related issues. Then back out to the farm and get more of the work done and then back in then with the family. That is generally the normal routine.
What time of the year are you most busy on the farm and why?
Spring time is busy because I would be in the thick of lambing season and that’s a tough time of the year.
What is your favourite time of year on the farm?
My favourite time of the year would be late Summer/early Autumn. I would be a lot more freed up and I get a chance to go away for a break. And the livestock are out and the weather is generally good.
What enticed you to become Laois IFA chairman?
Well the man that got me heavily involved in the IFA was former chairman Michael McEvoy. Then once that happened it all moved along and eventually I became county secretary for four years and I spent two years on the farm business committee. I ran for chairman when Pat Hennessy’s term was over and I’ve been the chairman for two years now.
What are your key responsibilities as IFA Chairman in Laois?
My role is to be Laois’ representative on the National Council, which is the council that over sees the ongoings and running of the IFA. I’m the voice for Laois farming essentially at a national and I would be in contact with any Laois farmers who have issues or problems at a local level. And that would involve meetings with Laois County Council and the Department of Agriculture.
Do you see yourself running for President of the IFA in the future?
No I don’t envisage that ever happening, it’s not for me and I personally feel that I currently hold the best job that anyone in the IFA can hold which is County Chair. I’m happy in that role because I get to represent my own people, my colleagues and friends.
What piece of advise would you give to someone that is thinking of getting into farming/agriculture?
I’d tell them to go in straight away and don’t wait around because it’s difficult at the start and you need to give it 100% focus. They should assume control or responsibility of the farm as soon as possible. Go to Ag College or get a degree in Agriculture and work at that for a while and get home and farm as soon as you can.
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