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Clones farmer launches new beef snacks at Ploughing

Story by John Donohoe

Wednesday, 20th September, 2017 12:48pm

Clones farmer launches new beef snacks at Ploughing

Colm Connolly and his beefy friends with his Rucksnacks.

A young Co Monaghan farmer, Colm Connolly, launches new flavours of his healthy, Irish beef jerky snack Rucksnacks at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore this week, intent on growing his exports despite Brexit uncertainty. The 30 year-old fifth generation farmer from Clones launched Rucksnacks in 2016, and recently moved his newly expanded agri-food business production from Northern Ireland to Ballybay, in Co Monaghan, ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU.
“I always wanted to base our production locally and luckily found a facility in Co Monaghan to be able to produce our beef snacks near the family farm in Clones. Brexit uncertainty means that many border businesses, like Rucksnacks, are having to plan for a trading future in the EU, but at a greater market distance from our traditionally closest trading partner, the UK," Colm explains. 
“This is a new concept for a lot of farmers in Ireland, and particularly for beef farmers like myself with half of all Irish beef exports going to the UK. Weakened Sterling has been another blow for exporters. Irish farmers will need some form of future EU assistance in the wake of Brexit in order to survive the impact as they will be the hardest hit,” said Colm, speaking from the Rucksnacks stand at the Enterprise Ireland tent at the National Ploughing Championships.  
While the UK is a critically important trading partner for Irish business and in particular for the Irish agri-food sector, 39 percent of all Irish agri-food exports (€4.8bn) went to the UK in 2016, Colm remains optimistic for the future: 
“We are delighted to give those attending the National Ploughing Championships an exclusive taste of two of our new flavours this week Sweet Chilli and Honey Roast, in addition to the already the hugely successful Black Pepper signature flavour Rucksnacks. The release of two new flavours comes ahead of the full official launch of our five flavours in the coming weeks. Business is going very well and we are increasing production to keep up with demand and continue to ship worldwide via our website,” he said.
Rucksnacks is a grass-fed beef jerky snack with only 89 calories per serving. With no added sugar, no gluten and no allergens - it is a quality Irish food that ticks a lot of health boxes as a lean protein snack. 
Looking to the future, Colm has called on the EU and the Irish government to think of the viability of farming as a career: “Young farmers like myself need to diversify. Farming alone is not enough to sustain a family anymore. I’m grateful to have had support from Enterprise Ireland and that SuperValu are stocking Rucksnacks with many other retailers and gyms coming on-board. 
“If we want young people to keep farming the land and producing high-quality food, then we it needs to be a viable career. This is something to take into account looking at the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020. Farmers need support, but Single Farm Payments should be capped at €100,000 - that would mean a fairer distribution of what will probably be a tighter CAP budget post-Brexit,” added Colm. 
For more information visit, add Rucksnacks on Twitter or Facebook. Visit Rucksnacks at the Enterprise Ireland stands at the National Ploughing Championships, Tullamore this week to sample some home-grown, quality beef snacks. 

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