LAST Sunday’s 2nd annual West Cork Farming Awards, run by The Southern Star and the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery – apart from being a pleasant family-orientated occasion – illustrated the resilience of the local farming community in the face of lower prices for their produce. For many, it has meant working harder for less money over the past two years, as there has been an over-supply of produce across various sectors worldwide.
Prices are beginning to recover, slowly but surely, but the potential for volatility is greater, especially in the dairy sector – which dominates West Cork farming – following the ending 18 months ago of the EU milk quotas. However, as most farmers will tell you, if money was their only motivating factor, they would have packed it up long ago.
Farming is a vocation and, in most cases, where farms have been in families for generations, the baton is passed on to the son or daughter that shows the most interest in that way of life. It involves long hours and a lot of dedication and young people entering the sector now have to be much better educated about the science of agriculture and the more onerous administrative requirements.
The West Cork Farming Awards recognise those who – no pun intended – are outstanding in their field and the 15 nominees shortlisted across five categories were all worthy contenders for awards. From the young farmers starting out to the Hall of Fame nominees being honoured for a lifetime of achievement, hard work and selfless dedication were the common denominators and all of them epitomised the drive and energy it takes to succeed in farming.
We salute the winners Michael Daly, Maulathanavalla, Reenascreena (Young Farmer of the Year); the Allshire Family, Caherbeg, Rosscarbery (Innovation & Vision); Michael Crowley, Bauravilla Upper, Skibbereen (Dairy Farmer of the Year); John Daly, Knockaneady, Ballineen (Drystock Farmer of the Year) and Con Scully, Ardfield, Clonakilty (Hall of Fame). The runners-up were also worthy of recognition because all contribute tirelessly to making West Cork one of the best farming areas in the country with local farmers regularly winning national awards.