British farmer makes a move — to Canada

Andrew Evans of Northern Ireland is unimpressed with the subsidy farming that is commonplace in the European Union

A farmer from Northern Ireland has decided to sell his dairy farm that has been in his family for three generations and move to Canada.

Andrew Evans, 42, plans to start a new life in Dauphin, Man., with wife, Sandra, and their children Daniel, Adam, Rhoda, Ruth and Jordan, who range from nine to 16 years old.

It’s been a tough decision for Evans and one he hasn’t taken lightly but being fed up with the weather, working for a subsidy and a “top-heavy” local department of agriculture helped push Andrew across the Atlantic.

A former Royal Engineer in the British Armed Forces, Evans is the third generation to run the farm near Dungiven in County Londonderry, which has been in the family since the 1940s.

He was running 200 cows plus followers, which have all been sold along with the farm machinery in preparation for the big move.

“I worked hard to build up this farm following in the footsteps of my late father and grandfather,” said Evans.

“The herd was performing well, the business was doing OK but I was getting disheartened with our top-heavy department of agriculture and farming simply for a subsidy.

“Certainly, the inclement weather does not make it easy to farm here, and neither does the calendar farming restrictions imposed by Brussels such as the slurry ban, for example.

“But I am more concerned about farming just for a subsidy from the European Commission. Farmers are just breaking even these days. In my opinion subsidies have ruined farming here.

“I want to farm in a way that puts less restriction on me, in terms of developing a business,” said Evans. “And Canada seems to be that type of place. I travelled out there with my two eldest sons last November. We were all very impressed with what we saw.”

Evans was impressed with the farming systems he saw in Manitoba, and more so in the Dauphin area.

He already has a farm in mind that he would like to buy but intends to travel to Canada soon to spend three weeks in Dauphin to get a better feel for the farm and the general area.

“Dauphin is a town that really appeals to me,” said Andrew. “The area is nice and I did visit a good farm last time that is for sale. I hope to go back there and see if a deal can be done.”

Evans said his wife and family support the move and they have already started the emigration process.

“Our own farm is not sold as yet but I am confident it will sell once the basic payments have been applied for.

“I am hoping to leave my 222 acres here behind and work with around 2,000 acres in Canada. The pound to dollar exchange rate is currently working in our favour,” he added.

Evans joked that his wife will not let him return to milking cows on the new farm but he admits his heart is in livestock farming.

“I think my days milking cows are definitely over if Sandra gets her way,” he said. “The farm I am looking at has around 800 acres arable land. I would hope to grow my own cereals to feed cattle on the farm.

“Cash flow is a real necessity on any farm and I think the combination of crops and rearing cattle will bring us in a regular income to get us going.

“The move is a big one but my three sons all want to farm and there is no room for all of us on the home farm,” said Evans.

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