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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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How checking cattle together sparked an agri-business venture for friends of 15 years

In this week’s Farmer Focus, That’s Farming profiles the owners of The Farmer’s Friend.

The Farmer’s Friend is the result of Diarmuid O’Donnell’s and Gary Cunningham’s fifteen-year friendship and extensive agricultural knowledge.

The duo crossed paths in The Abbey CBS secondary school in Tipperary town (No doubt at the back of the classroom, they claim) and have been side-by-side since then.

The Farmer’s Friend

Diarmuid (29) and Gary (28) opened their booming Tipperary-based business on February 1st, 2021, during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

They provide a range of services to farmers, including tail clipping; herd test assistance; livestock sales/purchases; transport of livestock; mulching/topping; milking relief; general farming labour; power-washing & disinfecting; dehorning; cattle weighing; dosing of livestock and agricultural fencing.

They are based outside Tipperary town and serve Tipperary, east Limerick, north Cork and surrounding areas.

The Farmer's Friend, farming news, Tipperary, farming news,

Both parties share equal roles in the company, from paperwork to hands-on farm labour.

Both Diarmuid and Gary actively farm, whilst running their new business. They are also armed with formal degrees; Gary completed a BSc in Agricultural Science at Cork Institute of Technology and Clonakilty Agricultural College. Diarmuid completed the same programme at Waterford Institute of Technology and Kildalton Agricultural College.

Diarmuid runs a drystock/suckler enterprise, with his father, alongside a successful livestock trade and haulage business. On the other hand, Gary is a pedigree Charolais/drystock farmer in the Glen of Aherlow.

“We felt there was an opening for this area of work. We both come from farming backgrounds and we always have had a passion for farming from a very young age,” they told That’s Farming.

“Our business differs from others as we believe a personal touch goes a long way in building relationships with farmers through personal interaction from organisation pre-job to job completion. Bing farmers ourselves, we know exactly what a farmer wants.”

“Our company works very simply: if a farmer is in need of a service, we provide. We would describe our business as an agricultural service that helps meet the farmers’ needs and wants.”

The Farmer's Friend, farming news, Tipperary, farming news,

Setting a business from scratch 

“The Farmer’s Friend did not suffer during the global pandemic as farming is a 365-day job that never stops.”

“We put a lot of late nights and long hours into this business before starting. We were confident that it was going to succeed. The phone did not ring for the first few days. However, once it did start, thank God it has not stopped since.”

“With your own business, it will always be full-on to make it a success. The biggest challenge we have had to date with the company were the influx of calls and work. This has caused us to employ additional labour. We did not receive any funding when setting up our business.”

The Farmer's Friend, farming news, Tipperary, farming news,

Future development 

Their short term goals are offering some additional services – including freeze branding – that they are working on behind the scene.

Their long-term goal is to keep this company to a high standard, expand their area, and hopefully be in a position to employ full-time labour.

“We are very proud of how far we have come to date. This idea all began on a summer evening in 2020 while checking cattle together.”

“As time passed on, the idea stayed with us, and our confidence grew knowing we would make it a success. A lot of winter nights were spent in the sitting room, making this idea become a reality. We look back now and are very grateful for taking that chance.

“Little did we think 15 years ago when we crossed paths in secondary school that we remain on the same path today,” they concluded.

The Farmer's Friend, farming news, Tipperary, farming news,, dairy news

To share your story, with That’s Farming, email – [email protected]

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