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Balmoral Show: Farming's younger generation talk of Brexit and their hopes for the future

By Rachel Martin

Northern Ireland's next generation of farmers have spoken of their worries about what Brexit might spell for the occupation they love.

James Chamber (17) from Annahilt farms beef cattle at his home. "The price of beef is a big worry for me. It's a pound difference on every kilo now and that soon adds up," he said.

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"It depends what breed you're working with, but it's making the future difficult for beef farmers."

Matthew Clingen (17) from Ballynahinch is also a beef farmer, but dairy prices are a concern for him as he works part-time helping out a friend on his farm.

"The price of beef isn't great at the moment - nor is the milk price. I work for a dairy farmer and have a small beef herd at home so the prices would need to improve for me to be able to focus more on my own farm," he said.

Jayne Cruikshank (14) from Glarryford, Co Antrim, revealed she was already thinking of other ways to incorporate her love of the countryside into her future.

"I'm still at school but I try to help my parents with the milking and feeding in the evenings," she said.

"I think some of the young ones struggle to get into farming because it's hard to get enough money to start up your own business.

"I love working with animals and I like being outside and doing that type of work, so I want to go to university and become a vet. But I think the industry has a bright future because there are lots of young farmers who want to get into it."

Daniel Colloum (17) from Enniskillen helps out on the family farm - they milk around 140 goats and make cheese, which is sold to several supermarkets. They also keep around 50 beef cattle.

"I prefer working with the cows as they're easier to control, but beef prices aren't great at the moment," he said.

"I think we need to work to promote ourselves better in other countries, but I would say Brexit won't help things - I don't think it will be good for exports."

Benjamin Allen (27) from Collone, Co Armagh, says he would love to work more on the farm but has to work another job to support a stable income.

"I just take every day as it comes. At the moment the suckler cows are getting good prices if you are producing what customers want - you can do well enough out of it," he said. "

"We started breeding with Herefords and found that helped our prices. For me the hardest thing in my area is getting ground - I want to expand but there's nowhere to expand into - there's a lot of big farmers getting bigger and it's harder for the smaller ones."

Matthew Gault (22) from Limavady said: "I have a dairy farm with around 160 cows but I also work for another farmer who milks three times a day. I do it because I enjoy it and it keeps me busy but it also helps to boost my income - it's a bit of extra pocket money.

"The big issue for young ones is getting conacre (ground to rent). Older farmers don't want to give up their ground and they hang on to it for as long as they can even if there's no one younger following on from them. I'm hoping that the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster's Land Mobility Scheme will be able to help young ones with that."

James Purcell (24) from Limavady is from a mixed farm with beef and dairy cattle, sheep as well as arable crops.

"The market for our product is a worry for me. I think Brexit will be hard in the short-term but I'm hopeful that it will make things better in the longer term," he said.

"I think we'll all just need to tighten our belts and make efficiencies where we can. For me the biggest concern is access to conacre - there are a lot of anaerobic digesters (biogass plants) being built which burn organic matter like crops, taking up land which could be used for farming and the food supply chain. I think that will become a major problem for young farmers in the future."

Shane Liggett (11) from Fivemiletown, with mum Ashlyne and dad Nigel, helps look after the family's flock of 19 Cheviot Park sheep, helps his grandfather out with his beef farm, and also is rearing two pet lambs.

He's young but already is considering a future in farming.

"I love the farm and working with the sheep," he said. "I like getting out and feeding them. And it's better than lying about the house doing nothing. When I get older I'd like to do more on the farm."

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