Farm Profitability Specialist, Enda Faulkner from Co. Donegal has been working with Aurivo Co-op for the past five years. The twenty-seven-year-old grew up on a liquid milk farm where his family were milking 80 cows.
Despite having a great interest in farming, the secondary student found it difficult to pinpoint exactly what area of agriculture he would like to work. While he was in fifth year in school, he noticed a course in UCD that caught his eye.
Dairy Business was new to the UCD curriculum at the time, and Enda was accepted into the programme after his Leaving Cert. The young dairy farmer realised that he would like to study and work in other areas of the sector before committing to farming full-time.
He and his father were in no rush to enter into a partnership and Enda knew that having a degree would keep his future options open.
Enda has three older sisters who all have their own careers off-farm, so Enda initially intended completing a Green Cert, but he found that the new course in Dairy Business might give him a broader range of skills to take into the future.
“It had a lot of business subjects, so it seemed like one of the most flexible courses to take.” explained the man from Moville.
The course was initially based around the sciences and business, but by third year, it became more practical and Enda had to go on placement in a professional setting. He secured work experience at Teagasc, Moorepark in Fermoy, Co. Cork. “Here I got a real insight into the research side of things.”
He stated that after the placement, the UCD student had a real knowledge of where the whole industry was headed. He graduated from university in September 2014.
By October that same year, Enda had been offered a position on a leadership and development programme with Aurivo – their graduate programme. He started that position on December 1st, “I’ve been there ever since,” he continued.
The farm profitability programme was started in 2014, however, Enda first had to work his way to promotion and he finally started this role in 2018.
Because he was introduced to the co-op as a trainee, Enda had the advantage of being given the opportunity to work in every aspect of the company. “I started in the retail stores, where I spent six months, and after that, I spent six months in the dairy section”.
Through this position, he became familiar with all the suppliers and built up good relationships with the customers.
“After that, I spent a short time at our marts just to get a grasp of it,” he said, noting that his intentions always were always aimed at the dairying side of the business, which brought him back to the farm profitability role.
The Donegal man is happy with his employers as they have given him the opportunity to specialise in an area that he enjoys, and his progression has been swift.
In the region that Enda must cover, there are farms that contain an approximate total of 80,000 – 90,000 cows that cover 13 counties, compared with Cork alone where there are 360,000 dairy animals.
This means that the farms in the west and northwest of the country are much smaller, so a lot more ground has to be covered. This has been one of the main challenges that he has faced, as much of his time is taken with travel.
It is Enda’s responsibility to host the ‘Grass Pods’ on farms, which are discussion groups where farmers can share their knowledge and experiences with each other with the aim of growing the profitability of their farms.
Last year, there was a drought in the southern parts of the country, while more northern counties saw excessive rainfall. It is part of Enda’s role to advise on best practices in each area and the variations are another challenge that Enda finds very interesting.
The Aurivo employee is living in Sligo, as this is more of a central location, from where he can travel across his designated region with greater ease. “If I’m working in Donegal, I’ll stay at home, so I’m between the two really,” said Enda, who plays football for his local club, Moville. “It’s a good excuse to get home every weekend” he added.
The dedicated farm consultant is also undertaking a part-time master’s degree in Food Business Management in Technical University Dublin. “The first six months have gone well, but the next six months might be a challenge with the workload”, he admitted. However, as the course is part-time, he is able to schedule it around his career.
The studious farmer has laid a great foundation for his future in agriculture and with dedicated young people like Ends, the sector will be in safe hands.
If you have a career in agriculture and would like to share your story, email Catherina@thatsfarming.com - with a short bio