THERE’S certainly history with associated with Vivian Buttimer and his family farm in Ballinscarthy. His family has been farming there as far as back as the 17th century and his mother, Hazel, is a descendant of the Ford’s.
The farm is the ancestral home from which the family of Henry Ford had before they emigrated to America. In fact, a few years ago Vivian and his family got permission from the Ford family to use their emblem to call it ‘Ford Farm.’
Vivian grew up on his parents’ farm and, in fact, his parents, Hazel and Tom, still help him out on his 200-acre farm where he has dairy, beef and small bit of tillage. Married to Joceyln, they have three children, Lisa, Evan and Kelsie, who also help Vivian out, as well as Andy Kelleher, who – despite being in his 80s – continues to work on the farm.
As a liquid milk producer, Vivian is one of only 1,800 farmers involved in this: ‘You have about 1,800 farmers registered as liquid producers, we’re only about 9% or 10% of all dairy farmers. We produce milk all year round and we’re not seasonal, so we have to produce a certain amount during the winter months, so we have two calving seasons, one starts early October and the second ones starts mid-January,’ said Vivian.
With 140 cows, Vivian is also glad to have seen the abolition of the EU milk quota:
‘It’s nice to be able to work now without watching where your limits are and constantly checking that you’re under quota. Those shackles are now gone.
Getting a fair price for his milk has always been a priority for Vivian and in 2013 he along with a fellow farmer, Richard Helen was asked to speak in front of an Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture about being treated fairly by the retail sector.
‘At the time we were looking for legislation on this matter, which has come in since, on the back of recommendations of the committee. We did a lot of work that time and we did it off our own back and we were the only producers who came onto that committee.’
As well as being busy on his farm, Vivian is also a member of the IFA and chairman of the local Ballinscarthy IFA. While he does engage in farm advisory services like Teagasc, he does feel they are limited with the time they can give farmers as advisors are thin on the ground due to the public jobs embargo.
‘I wouldn’t be a fan with all the paperwork that is associated with farming, as I’d find myself doing a lot of paperwork, while at the same time trying to work the farm too.’
Vivian sees a big future in family farms, where size is less important and efficiency taking precedence.
‘I enjoy the work and I love being out and love the harvest time of the year when you get that smell of the grain. No year is the same when you’re a farmer and every year is a challenge.’
Vivian does point out that having farming in your genes is crucial to being a successful farmer.
‘It’s a tough life and you have to have a real love for it, as you work hard and you don’t always get paid for it,’ adds Vivian.