Lots of opportunities in farming for young people who want it, says Macra young farmer

“With farming there is a whole world of opportunity there for the guys who want it and are encouraged to go and get it.” That’s according to 2014 Young Farmer of the Year Sean O’Donnell.

A 33-year-old dairy farmer from Ballina in Co. Mayo O’Donnell who is married to Jackie and has three children said that he is very positive about the industry.

O’Donnell believes there is a bright future in farming for young people. “I would be very positive about it. We are dairy farming and with the quota hand break coming off in 2015 it’s a massive opportunity. There is plenty of room there for expanding.

“Boys still have to be careful not to over extend themselves with borrowings and dealing with the banks. But at the same time if young farmers plan it right and get the strategy right there definitely an opportunity.”

However, Sean did concede that he does worry about volatility to a certain extent. But stressed that if your in control of your costs you can mitigate against this.

“We have bred a crossbred cow that will produce a high milk solids price and we can get our price 6-7c/L above the average guy. I think that insulates us a certain amount. It won’t take us out of the curve altogether but certainly it’s a help.”

Sean said that farming has a bright future and would encourage other young farmers into it. “Your in control of your own destiny. You are self-employed and you have a great lifestyle. One of the great things about farming is that you can take an opportunity when it arises. It’s up to yourself if you want to expand and what kind of income you want to deliver for yourself.”

An Aurivo supplier Sean becomes the 15th winner of the FBD Young Farmer of the Year Award. “I’m absolutely delighted with the win. From a personal point of view it’s a huge honour to be selected. To be honest it is completely unexpected. Definitely a bit of a shock to the system. But definitely a huge honour not just to be selected as young farmer of the year, but also a huge honour for our part of the country in the West.

“I took over from my farther (John) in 2008 we were milking about 40 cows at that stage. We have expanded steadily over the past four or five years that target was to get to 100 cows, this year we calved 108 cows.”

Looking towards the future Sean said he is looking to get to 150 cows in the next three years. He is, at the moment, at the early stages of talk about share farming some land with a neighbour. If this goes through and works he will have access to land meaning that reaching his plan of 150 cows would be very achievable if the share farming works.

Sean is also a member of two discussion groups, one which he is Chairman at the moment and he plays football with his local club.

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