independent

Saturday 21 September 2019

Does Ronnie have the Feirm Factor?

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION AT FERNS FARM

DAVID MEDCALF

FERNS farmer Ronnie White has taken to performing in front of the cameras as one of the contenders in the latest series of 'Feirm Factor'.

The TG4 series, which started at the weekend, takes the form of a competition intended to find a champion son ( or daughter) of the soil, with contestants carrying out a series of tasks.

During the making of the programme, the television cameras arrived at the White family holding in Curraduff near Kilrush to show Ronnie in action on home soil.

They found a farmer who manages to combine the rearing of a beef herd with a job as a member of the teaching staff at Coláiste Bhríde in Carnew, where he teaches biology and geography.

'I had film crews all over the farm,' recalled 30 year old Ronnie who runs the place with his mother Frances, while also managing to compete as top class showjumper. As well as cattle, there are a few acres of corn, a growing flock of sheep and so many horses that he has stopped trying to count them.

Ronnie White grew up on the land in Curraduff where his late father, also Ronnie, was in charge. The son worked with AIB Bank for five years as a young man before returning to college at Maynooth and then U.C.D. to take his teaching qualifications. He has strong views on the state of agriculture.

' Only for my teaching I would not have a backside in my trousers,' he commented, describing the average farm income of around € 9,000 as pathetic.

He revealed that he is looking at the possibility of wind farming as an alternative enterprise and also considering putting some of the land under forestry.

He has enjoyed working on the TV programme, though he has found Alan Dukes – the former Fine Gael leader – hard to get on with as a judge on the programme.

The other judges are presenter Maura Dirrane and farming expert Seán Ó Lionáird.

Cork, Tipperary, Carlow, Meath, Kildare, Kerry, Limerick, Sligo, and Galway are all represented in the line-up of contestants in the search for Ireland's top farmer.

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