Farmers reap benefits of OLDC course

FARMERS from South Offaly recently visited two farms near Cloghan and are reaping the benefits of Offaly Local Development Company’s Crossroads Farming Programme, run in collaboration with Teagasc.

FARMERS from South Offaly recently visited two farms near Cloghan and are reaping the benefits of Offaly Local Development Company’s Crossroads Farming Programme, run in collaboration with Teagasc.

Over 15 farmers from Barna are taking part in the programme which is a training, coaching and mentoring programme for farm families targeting change and more effective land use, along with looking at off-farm diversification options.

Brian Lyons, Smallholder Development Officer with OLDC explained that getting a job alongside working the farm has become more difficult with the economic climate and so farmers need to look at other ways to generate income!

He said, “Low income dry stock farmers in Offaly who had the option in the last number of years with off-farm employment now need to look at three key areas to generate income to compensate for that lost through employment opportunities.

“The first area is their own self and their farms, looking at there individual skill set they have along with their land base and see how they can make best use of these to improve their income.

“Secondly to look at alternative options with regards to land use and not be hindered by tradition; and thirdly to look at diversification options both on and off their farms and make maximum use of the Rural Development Programme fund to achieve these.”

The Crossroads Farming Programme covers areas like change management skills, financial management, grassland management, alternative land use, Rural Development Programme and makes use of one to one coaching, farm visits and group discussions to achieve its objectives.

On Tuesday, February 8, a group of farmers participating in the programme went on two site visits to farms near Cloghan.

They met with farmer Tim Camon who has three different land uses and the other visit was to Orla and Sean Clancy’s at Clanwood Organic Farm. This gave Barna farmers an insight into the potential for organic farming and their on-farm diversified projects.

Suckler and sheep farmer Cecil Wallace, from Mount Heaton who is participating in the course said that he is finding it very beneficial and it is forcing him to look at his own farm and assess which areas are losing and making money.

Offaly Local Development Company (OLDC) is a state funded organisation that delivers a range of programmes and supports to people, communities and businesses in Offaly. For further information on training courses contact OLDC on 057 9352467, e-mail info@oldc.ie or visit www.oldc.ie