Ballinagore’s Karen Elliffe didn’t know the impact that being crowned the 2016 Macra na Feirme Queen of the Land would have on her life, both professionally and personally.
From appearing on the Late Late Show, to discussing women in farming, to rubbing shoulders with some of the sector’s most influential figures, it’s easy to see why the 27-year-old beef farmer describes the last 12 months as a “roller-coaster”.
“I was just very fortunate this year. I am a full-time farmer and whole issue of women farmers in Ireland just exploded. I went to a few meetings of the Women in Farming group and it just grew legs. Previous Queens never reached that far, we were kind of breaking new ground this year.”
“I’ve learned so much, not only agriculture-wise, but I’ve also grown in confidence.
Karen was recently chosen as one of 15 participants in a young beef farmer sustainability programme, which is a joint venture between Macra and Dawn Meats. One day a month the participants in the programme attend events, where they learn about different practices that should help them farm more efficiently.
Karen says that her year as the Queen of the Land gave her the self belief to apply for this year’s programme.
“I probably would have come across the programme but having done Queen of the Land, it gave me the much-needed confidence boost to put myself forward.”
The equine science graduate currently divides her time between helping her father on the family farm and building her own herd. Although she says that there are many challenges to being a beef farmer at the minute, she won’t be following the example of many others and making the move to dairy. She says that by becoming more efficient and moving with the times, beef farmers can secure a sustainable
“I’m a fifth generation beef farmer and I will stick with it as long as I can,” she says.
Karen’s non-farming passion is baking, which she picked up from her late grandmother, May Elliffe. Later this month she is going to put her baking skills to good use to raise funds for two charities that are close to her heart – the Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Cancer society.
On Saturday October 21 (after 7.30pm Mass) and on Sunday October 22 (after 11.30am Mass) Karen will be hosting a cake sale and coffee evening/morning in Castletown Geoghegan Hall.
She will also be taking party in the October Mudfest obstacle race in Longford on October 28.
If you would like to contribute to Karen’s fundraising efforts you can do so at gofundme.com/muckin-macra-queen.