The part time Level II Agricultural Business Operations course bridged the gap for John

Date published: 09 June 2016

By Dr Steven Johnston, Programme Manager, Greenmount Campus, CAFRE.

John Blaney from Cushendall studied and worked hard to establish himself as a well-respected Civil Engineer. He worked on extensive projects throughout the UK and Ireland, including the Westway dock development in Glasgow and the iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin.

John Blaney, Cushendall, found the Level II Agricultural Business course very helpful as he continues to develop the family business.

But John wanted to settle down, so he returned home to Tievebuaile farm near Cushendall. With his father and brother, they now run 600 blackface ewes plus followers, 50 suckler cows and the very successful Tievebuaile Bluefaced Leicester flock. This flock was the first registered Bluefaced Leicester flock in Northern Ireland.

John had the passion for farming, but recognised he needed to understand more about the business of farming. The part time Level II Agricultural Business course gave him that opportunity. It also allowed him to apply for the Young Farmers’ top-up payment.

“I found the whole course very informative and looked forward to my Wednesday evenings at Greenmount Campus. Getting introduced to the science behind all the different feeds on the market, why grass needs managed differently at different times of the year and the new thinking on many health issues relating to sheep was all very interesting,” says John. 

“As a result of the course I am thinking a lot more about what we do on the farm and why. I am a lot more aware of Health and Safety issues, especially now that I have a young family. I have updated our Flock Health Plan, in particular our worming strategies, and am considering utilising IT to ease recording and selecting for the commercially important traits within our sheep flocks. An important part of our business is producing over 300 mule ewe lambs each year for sale in Armoy. I must ensure we continue to provide our customers with high quality breeding stock,” adds John.

The CAFRE Agricultural Business Operations (Level II Certificate) Course opens for enrolments on Thursday 9 June and will close at 4.00pm on Thursday 7 July 2016.

The classes will begin in early October and run weekly for 20 weeks. All of the classes will be based in one of the three CAFRE Campuses – Greenmount, Loughry and Enniskillen. Classes will be sector based – Dairying, Beef, Sheep, Crops, Arable/ Commercial Horticulture and Poultry.

You can book a place on a course by visiting the CAFRE website. A range of evenings, Monday to Thursday will be available, however, choices will become more limited as classes fill up. Therefore, it is important that you book early to ensure you get the training event which best suits your needs. There is an administration cost of the course of £150.00 payable to CAFRE Finance Administration at Greenmount Campus by Friday 19 August 2016. Further details about how to pay the course fee will be provided when you book your place.

The CAFRE Agricultural Business Operations (Level II Certificate) qualification meets the agricultural training eligibility requirements for the Young Farmers’ Payment/Regional Reserve Scheme. Enrolments received after 4pm on 7 July 2016 may not be eligible for entry to the 2016/17 course. If you require any assistance when booking a place on this training, you can call CAFRE Industry Training Administration on 028 9442 6880 or by emailing

Notes to editors: 

  1. All media enquiries to DAERA Press Office, or tel: 028 9052 4619.


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