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Dairy farmer optimistic about the future


LOOKING TO THE FUTURE  Claremorris native Kevin Moran is hopeful that life on the farm will continue to prosper post Covid-19.

Ger Flanagan

LIFE on Kevin Moran’s farm is busy at the minute, with approximately 160 of his herd already calved and another 100 or so to go in the next month.
The former Young Farmer of the Year from Claremorris barely has time to worry about the pandemic. He candidly admits that he considers himself fortunate to have been working in a sector that was able to continue working throughout the past 12 months, albeit in unusual circumstances.
Right now he’s optimistic that a vaccine looms on the horizon. Once the roll out has been completed, some of the more enjoyable elements of farming can return.
“There’s definitely an optimistic feeling out there with the emergence of vaccines,” he told The Mayo News. “There’ll be a new-found appreciation for all the simple things in life that we took for granted, such as the farm walks and simple things like that.
“Even for the likes of my uncles or my parents being able to come to the farm and help out doing jobs they enjoy doing… It is one of the most enjoyable things in farming I feel, to see the generations before you seeing how you take pride in your work.”

Animals, environment, family
Moran’s dairy farm in Caherlistrane has undergone change in the year since last March, with operations tightening and movement lessening. But the same principles always applied.
“We were entering into the unknown last year, and there was an awful lot of fear,” he said. “But the day-to-day operations, and the nature of farming itself, stayed the same in the sense that you have a duty of care to your animals, to your environment and to your family income. You have to protect all those.
“There’s a daily, weekly an annual routine that you still have to implement, and it’s non-negotiable. So from that point of view you’re doing all those things with as few people as possible purely to protect those three things.
“So it has been tougher, as everyone is working harder.”
The 27-year-old admits that his greatest concern last year was that the dairy factory in Ballaghadeereen, which employs over 100 people, could be shut down due to Covid-19. This would have had a massive impact on his income, and he is fulsome in his praise for Aurivo, which did not let that happen.

Mental health
Moran also touched on the hardships that farmers have experienced in terms of seclusion and loneliness, saying he feels a bit disillusioned by the lack of State support.
“Farming by its very nature can be a lonely occupation,” he said. “A farmer can be on their own all day on the farm and feel very secluded. People don’t realise too that for a lot of farmers the likes of marts, the GAA or the local pub are their only social outlets, and when they are taken away, it’s very, very tough on them. You can see it.
“The Government have been busy fighting fires everywhere in the background and they kept the food chain open alright. But there’s been very little done to try and combat the mental health [impact] for the older farmers.
“There has been nothing put in place to try and help them. And really and truly, what we rely on from the government from a very basic level is communication; it’s what they’re supposed to be good at, but I think they have been really found wanting as of late.”
Moran hopes the fallout from Covid-19 isn’t going to be as bad as some speculate. Like the rest of us, he’s counting down the days to ‘normality’, hoping to be back out walking fields with other farmers, attending marts and enjoying a freer 2021.