Why don't we have a Struggling Farmer of the Year Award?

If you ask me, there are too many awards in Irish farming today.

There are awards for milk, for beef, for cheese, for butter and for brown bread.

Awards for young fellows, women and breeding heifers.

The side tables in some farmers’ kitchens must be full to overflowing with trophies, medals and rosettes. All classes of farmer seem to be winning gold, silver and bronze. All, that is, except for one type of farmer.

And the farmer I speak of, is none other than the farmer like myself.

The fellow managing to rear a large family on an income that wouldn’t rear a goat. How does he do it? Heaven only knows.

The fellow keeping the wolf from the door, in spite of all the odds stacked against him, is the greatest farmer of all. But where is his award?

Why aren’t we hoisting him onto our shoulders, and carrying him into public houses and other places where jolly people congregate?

If you have the brains and the fat wallet to begin with, being a success in anything is easy. Sure I’d have been a millionaire a thousand times over, if I had the money.

Rewarding the high rollers in life is a waste of time, for they have success enough in their lives already, without adding to it.

What’s the point in giving a trophy to the greatest farmer in Ireland?

Being great should be  reward enough for the clown.

And as for the rewarding of young farmers, what is going on there? It’s like giving a pat on the head to a young ram before he sets out into a field of breeding ewes, he has yet to prove himself. It could all end in tears.

I have often come across a young ram with the look of business about him, only to find that over the long haul, the only covering he is capable of is covering the farmer in shame.

The young ram, like the young farmer, needs time to prove himself before praise should arrive.

Not every fellow sticks with farming. I’m certain sure that down through the years, there were many fine young men presented with trophies in farming, only to move on to pastures new a short time later.

Stay away from rewarding the young. Far better to reward an old fellow like myself with six children to be fed and no real plan or scheme as to how it will all work out.

He’s the man who deserves a trophy. Award the farmer who is fond of the bed, the pint and the craic, and you will be anointing the right kind of disciple.

I was only saying to the bank manager the other day, when he called in search of a bit of money, that being a success in farming is not all about measuring grass, checking boundary ditches or answering phone calls.

And he couldn’t agree with me more. 

“Tis the likes of you,” says he, “that are keeping the likes of me, and the banks in business. For if everyone was paying their way, and didn’t have debt as long as their arm, we’d be in a right old fix.”

“Unbridled success in agriculture,” he explained, “would be an unmitigated disaster for the banking fraternity. Surcharges and plenty of interest charged on late payments for stocking loans and what have you, are the lifeblood of any bank.

“That is where our profit comes from. The struggling farmer, who is just keeping his head above water,” says he with a tear rolling down his cheek, “is the greatest farmer of all.”

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