LLCC students in Ireland

Agriculture students learn about the industry from a different perspective

By Eric Thomas

Combining your education with travel to a foreign land can lend to success until the cows come home. Students and advisers from the agriculture department at Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield traveled to Ireland May 13-23.

One of the lucky participants was Franklin native Matt Crow, a 2022 Franklin High School graduate and current student in the ag-business program at LLCC. “This was my first opportunity to look at agriculture outside of the Midwest, let alone United States,” stated Crow.

The trip was an immersive and educational experience, totaling over 1,000 miles. It allowed students to see agricultural, cultural and historical sites of Ireland.

Irish agriculture is dominated by family-owned farms, and their output is dominated by dairy and livestock, especially beef. Agricultural production is a key driver of the Irish economy.

Pasture-based farm enterprises dominate the country with 9 to 10 months of grass growth per year. “They seemed to utilize their land better than a lot of farmers in the United States,” Crow observed. “The whole island was being used for row crop or developed pastureland.” He did notice a big difference comparing Ireland’s agriculture industry to the United States.

“The biggest thing that stood out to me about comparing their ag industry to ours was the high number of regulations implemented on farmers,” he continued. “The biggest downside of owning land or farming in Ireland is the many regulations and steps to being approved to make any adjustments to livestock operations and land changes or improvements.”

During the trip, the 30 students enjoyed a tour stop at Killkenny Mart to watch a sheep and dairy cow sale, visits to local farmers’ beef and dairy operations, and time spent at Castlecor Potatoes, where a father and son team showcased their farm and packaging facility for potatoes and onions.

Students also had the opportunity to see Macroom Buffalo, which is the only water buffalo milk farm in Ireland. The students watched as the buffalo came in for milking, and they sampled the farm’s cheese products.

“We tried both water buffalo hamburgers and their cheeses, and we all loved it,” Crow commented. “The mozzarella was my personal favorite and had a very salty taste to it.”

Other stops on the tour included a visit to Fernville Connemara Pony Stud, which specializes in the Connemara Pony Breed, and a tour of an aquaculture company dedicated to the cultivation of abalone.

The trip also included visits to iconic locations and historic sites including the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Rock of Cashel, the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Clonmacnoise and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

The goal for Crow after he is finished with his education is to continue farming and raising cattle — like his father and grandfather. He looks forward to continuing his studies at LLCC and he is making it a priority to go on the next agriculture trip in 2024.

“The trip they are working on for 2024 is the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and upper California. Ireland with this group of both students and teachers was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I would highly suggest anybody considering the ag program at LLCC to include these trips as part of your program experience.”

The LLCC Agriculture study abroad experience was made possible by the Kreher Agricultural Trust.

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