Women in agriculture profile featuring Claire Martin

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​Place you call home:

Newtownards, Country Down.

Occupation:

Agriculture account manager at Dunbia, wife and mum.

Claire pictured with son James. (Pic: UFU)Claire pictured with son James. (Pic: UFU)
Claire pictured with son James. (Pic: UFU)

Farming commodity:

My husband and father-in-law run a dairy business milking approximately 200 cows on an autumn calving system and rearing all calves through for replacement heifers or finishing beef. They are also keen British Blue breeders selling breeding bulls and heifers for the commercial market.

How did you become involved in farming?

I was very lucky to grow up in a farming family where my grandad and uncle ran a suckler beef, sheep and contracting business. From a young age, I had a passion to be outdoors helping with the various duties and spent all my time there at the weekends and during school holidays. This interest extended into my studies where I later pursued a degree in agricultural technology offered by Queens University Belfast and Greenmount College. It gave me great exposure and career opportunities in the red meat industry including my current job where I work with leading retailers as an agriculture account manager at Dunbia.

Claire Martin. (Pic: UFU)Claire Martin. (Pic: UFU)
Claire Martin. (Pic: UFU)

Earliest farming memory:

When I was really young, my favourite time of the year was lambing, and I always remember hearing my grandad getting up in the early hours of the morning to do a check in the sheep shed. As soon as I heard him, I would follow him to make sure I missed nothing! After a lot of spectating, he finally let me lamb my first sheep and it felt like a huge achievement!

What personal characteristics did you develop from agriculture?

I feel that being involved in agriculture from a young age and being given increased responsibility as I got older developed my key characteristics of determination, persistence and a strong work ethic coupled with patience and compassion.

Life lesson you learnt from farming:

If you are committed, have great ambitions and a love for the job, it will all pay off in the long run.

What do you enjoy most about the farming lifestyle?

Personally, I love the fast-paced nature of farming – there is always something to do and somewhere to be! Living on my husband’s dairy farm with our two-year-old son, there is never a dull moment and it’s very rewarding to give him a farm upbringing learning about the animals and having space to explore! Outside of my day job, I help out where I can whether that’s rearing calves, scraping cubicles, moving cattle or the mass feeding of silage men – our son joins in with it all!

Describe a farmer in three words:

Resilient, determined and committed.

What would you like the public to know about Northern Ireland farming?

Northern Irish produce has some of the highest animal health and welfare credentials in the world, and I feel we need to shout about that more. Informing the public on the importance of the origin and sustainable production of their food, will help demonstrate their commitment to the environment through buying local but also support rural communities to produce the food that we need.

If you could give farmers/farming families/farming community one piece of advice, what would it be?

Communication is key – don’t hold any worries or concerns in. Likewise, there is support out there to help build business resilience during these challenging times with policy pressures – take every opportunity for support or advice that you can!

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the agriculture industry?

There are so many career paths to choose from within the agriculture sector and all play important roles in keeping the industry moving, which means that you don’t have to have a background in the industry to find it rewarding. As with any career it can be challenging, but by doing something you are passionate about, the positives will outweigh any negatives.

What are your hopes for the future of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry?

I hope there will be the right help and support from across the whole industry for NI farmers to remain viable as we undergo profound shifts in agricultural policy. Farmers are no longer just ‘farmers’, they have to be nutritionists, environmentalists, mechanics, accountants, in which the list is growing in the face of market pressures. There needs to be a robust network of support and guidance to help farmers learn about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ to allow for improvements in efficiency and therefore, allow us to validate our sustainability credentials and market our NI produce on a global scale.