December 20, 2019

Why join a Business Development Group?

By Ron Gardiner

I had the pleasure of meeting Samantha McCarroll at her dairy farm in Fintona. Over a great mug of tea and some lovely biscuits in the family farm kitchen she told me about her farming life and how being in a Business Development Group has benefited the farm business.

Tell us a little about yourself Samantha

Well I am married to Niall and we have two lovely daughters Jessica and Myra . I was a teacher and milk recorder and Niall was a plasterer and relief milker but in 2014 we took the plunge and purchased a 70 acre farm. After six months of hard work we had built our new dairy unit and had the farm ready for milking.

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Why the career change Samantha?

Not so much of a career change as I finally was able to do what I wanted! Farming has always been in my blood as I grew up farming with my dad. I showed Limousin cattle and then when I moved out of home Niall and I reared calves and kept ewes. I then got a job as a milk recorder when I was at university.

What’s a typical working day for you?

Well its up before 6am and fit in a gym class then milking at 7am. Then I head in to take the girls to school while Niall does the washing up in the parlour! After the school run and breakfast its back out to the yard again. I have also returned to teaching for 1.5 days a week teaching BTec level 2 and 3 Agriculture in Fivemiletown College so life is a little hectic at the moment but very enjoyable.

I know you are in a DAERA Business Development Group (BDG). What is a BDG?

It’s a group of like-minded people who meet once a month on different group members’ farms. My group has support from a CAFRE adviser, Trevor Alcorn who is truly great. It’s always a good meeting often facilitated by a dairy farming experts. It gives us a chance to help each other with support and advice and the social aspect is really good too. This year I also had the opportunity to take part in the Farm Innovation Scheme and a group of us travelled to North Wales. We visited farms where we saw new technologies and brought them home to our own farms we were also able to share our experiences with our BDG members to encourage them to adopt new innovations on their farms. As a teacher I have to say that seeing and learning from other people’s experiences is a great way to learn.

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Would you recommend BDG to other farmers?

Definitely yes!

Interested in joining a group and supporting your farm business, find out more HERE

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