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My Farming Week: Graham Sweeney, Mills of Louth, Co Louth
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My Farming Week: Graham Sweeney, Mills of Louth, Co Louth

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Co Louth potato and grain farmer Graham Sweeney talks to Patrick Donohoe about his farming week and the difficult potato market.
Co Louth potato and grain farmer Graham Sweeney talks to Patrick Donohoe about his farming week and the difficult potato market.

I farm: “About 500 acres of grain and, give or take, 12 acres of spuds in Co Louth.”

Grain: “I had spring barley, winter wheat and spring oats this year. The weather was atrocious for harvesting and it was left very late but the yields were very good. I sell my grain to Drummonds mostly, and to Goldcrop too.”

Straw: “I still have in the region of 170 or 180 acres of straw on the ground that I haven’t been able to get baled. It’s hard to know what to do with it now but the straw is good bit of cashflow and you’d like to get it done at the same time.”

Potatoes: “We mainly have Rooster but there’s 12 acres of Golden Wonder and 14 acres of Maris Piper too.”

Harvest: “We’re digging at the moment here now and it’ll probably continue out to the end of the month. The yield has been exceptional and the quality is brilliant too. Yields have been good everywhere but I don’t think there’ll be an oversupply of the market. There are some reports of oversized spuds. I wouldn’t be too worried about that.”

Cost: “Sure look, it’s costing about €3,000/acre to grow spuds and that’s not taking into account cold storage too. To guarantee good quality and that continuity of supply, farmers need more to put spuds in storage. We’re not being rewarded. It costs us €50/t to keep in the store until next summer.”

Challenges: “The cost is an issue no doubt, but the imports into the country are playing living hell with the growers. While consumption has picked up again, the consumer wants a smaller pack, with good clean spuds in the supermarket.”

Catering: “I’ve a business supplying shops and butchers and a hotel in the area. It’s called Maisie’s and we do potatoes, chip and wedges and the like. It’s a small business but it’s something a bit different.”

Quotable quote: “If you produce a quality spud, if you do it right, there’ll always be a market for them.”

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Full series: My Farming Week

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