IT can be hard juggling farm duties with travelling back and forth to Brussels but for Alan Jagoe from Nohoval, it’s part and parcel of life for the 32-year-old as he is the president of CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers. The former Macra president divides his time between his work in Brussels and working on his family’s 400-acre dairy and tillage farm.
‘I’m in Brussels about three or four times a month for meetings, so I’m lucky in that my father Edward and my brother George are part of our family partnership farm, so when I’m away, they are looking after the farm,’ said Alan.
‘There are a lot of challenges and obstacles with this position and I’m dealing with issues that I’ve dealt with before as Macra president but this is on a wider scale.’
Alan has been working on the family farm for most of his life and was always interested in forging a career in agriculture. but it wasn’t until he joined the local Macra na Feirme Club that he became more actively involved in representation.
‘I was quite shy and reserved when I joined the local Macra club in Carrigaline and never thought that I would end up as president of Macra na Feirme never mind president of the CEJA. I was nominated for the vice-president role two days before my wedding to my wife Helen, so that was pretty eventful.’
Alan was vice-president of CEJA for two years before he decided to run for president, a decision he discussed with both his wife and family before he was successfully elected.
‘It opens your mind to different thinking when you’re out meeting other farmers and politicians. We take what we do here for granted, but when you see other countries you can see that we’re far ahead in some respects.’
With three incomes to support, Alan, George and Edward milk 200 cows and they have expanded a lot in the past 10 years by buying a lot of quotas and now that it is gone it will allow the farm to reach its potential. Alan also feels that the farm advisory services play a hugely important role in helping and education farmers.
‘Teagasc are great in what they do and they show what farmers are able to do and we need more services like that.’
While he’s not the biggest fan of the paperwork that goes with farming, he believes it’s part and parcel of being a farmer in modern Ireland and luckily for Alan, his mother Agnes usually takes care of it.
As a partner in a family farm, Alan sees a huge future for family farms in Ireland.
‘Ireland will never be like New Zealand where they have big industrial farms on huge tracts of land. Small family farms are the model that keeps rural Ireland together,’ added Alan.
Being his own boss is certainly one of the benefits of being a farmer according to Alan and he likes the fact that as a farmer he is in control of what he does. However he sees the volatility of the markets as something that farmers can’t control.
When Alan isn’t commuting between home and Europe and taking a rest from farming, he still likes to go to Macra na Feirme events and he went to the big Macra Rally that was held in Rochestown Park Hotel recently.
Alan is also a big sports fan and he used to play hurling and football with Tracton and follows rugby and soccer too.
‘I would definitely recommend a career in agriculture as there are huge opportunities for us as Irish farmers and, with the huge world population, we are in prime position to be at the helm of feeding them.’