UFU Women in Agriculture profile featuring Kerrie Hall
Place you call home: Parkgate, Co. Antrim.
Occupation: Full time farmer and parent.
Farming commodity: Beef. We also produce hydro energy.
How did you become involved in farming?
I have been living on a farm since I was 15. Unfortunately, in a short space of time my father passed away, I had a baby and my marriage broke down. I had to make the decision to give up my career in property management which involved long hours to look after my child and the farm with my brother who also has a full-time job. I always helped my dad out on the farm in the evenings and weekends, and went to the mart when I could, collecting his luck pennies for him in the hope for a beef dinner, at this expense.
Earliest farming memory:
Falling asleep in my uncle’s tractor when I was about six when he and my dad were ploughing fields.
What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?
Farming made me very determined, especially if someone says, “you’ll never be able to do that”, particularly when it comes to physical strength. There is also no room for being lazy either, animals rely on you to care for their every need.
Life lesson you learnt from farming:
Just because you are a female doesn’t mean you can’t do it. No one ever taught me how to reverse machinery, I kept practicing (my brother still asks me, “who reversed that for you?”). Breaking a nail is not the end of the world anymore. At the end of the day the slurry wouldn’t get mixed unless the PTO shaft was on and the nail will grow back!
What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?
The peace and quiet, the freedom of being your own boss, the fresh air and that every day is different.
Describe a farmer in three words:
Strong, determined and hardy.
Most misleading thing you’ve ever read about the farming industry:
That it hugely contributes towards the planet’s C02 levels. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the global pollution levels have dropped as there are less vehicles on the roads, less factories operating etc. but strangely farmers haven’t stopped and the same number of animals are still present.
What would you want the general public to know about farming?
That it’s not easy!
If you could give one piece of advice to farmers/farming families/farming community what would it be?
Farming can be a lonely, isolated, demanding career and it is important to take time out and have a social life. Go for that massage, spend quality time with your family, give yourself a break, away from the daily grind. Ask for help when you need it and you never know when someone may need your help in return. If you are not sure of something, go on training courses, do workshops, that’s what they are there for.
At the end of the day if you are not mentally or physically able to farm, who is going to do it for you?
What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agri industry?
Diversify. Always be open minded to other ways to create revenue from your farming business.
What are your hopes for the future of the farming industry?
That farmers always get fair rates for their produce and are recognised for keeping a huge part of the food industry going.