The event was facilitated by Katherine O’Leary of the Irish Farmers Journal. Panelists were Anne-Marie Butler (Ulster Bank), Alan Jagoe (dairy farmer, President of CEJA 2015-2017), Ed Donovan (dairy new entrant), Brendan Horan (Teagasc Moorepark) and Patrick Ryan (pig farmer).
Katherine O’Leary spoke about the enthusiasm of youth and how she personally had experienced the process of commencing hand over of the reins to the next generation. Understanding on both sides will be required in this circumstance and sometimes compromise is not the answer. What really came across was the need for certainty around delegation – 2 people can’t decide where the cows go today – every day!
Farms country wide
Anne Marie Butler of Ulster Bank has responsibility for the 26 counties and spends her day on farms country wide. She offered the benefit of her experience with family farms and the need for structured meetings – example given of the family meeting that was held every Friday – and ended in a row – every Friday!! Formal meetings are critical to the success of family farms. She also spoke of the need to have experience milking cows and to represent yourself well to the Bank eg “I don’t like milking cows on a Sunday – robot can do it!!”
Alan Jagoe of Macra gave us some of their expansion at home on the dairy farm. He emphasised the need for time management and also referred to the importance of quality of life. A simple example was how he tries to finish at 11am on a Sunday to spend time with his young family. Also, the importance of cash management in a changing situation was obvious – they have recently changed to concentrate on cows and through gentle persuasion, they no longer have cattle – all bull calves are sold by Patrick’s day to simplify the system at home.
Returning home to the farm
Ed Donovan is the father of 2 small girls and told us how he completed an agricultural science degree, worked in the construction industry for some time with 6 employees, worked as a branch manager in Goldcrop for 5 years, and decided to return home to farm in 2013. They had a tillage farm at home but dairying was the only sustainable option. His main word of advise was to get a contractor in if completing a development as Edward and his dad did a lot of the work themselves- tiring when trying to establish a dairy herd.
Learning from your peers
Brendan Horan of Teagasc spoke of keeping things simple and learning from your peers. The importance of going away to learn from another farm was emphasised – be it locally or abroad doesn’t really matter but it is important to broaden experience.
Setting up the farm well
Patrick Ryan is both a pig farmer and dairy farmer. He spoke of how the farm was well set up at home when he started farming and how that was a great help. He is maxed out at the number of cows he has at moment and the pigs offered him a chance to expand. He spoke of how the best laid plans can fall by the wayside eg when someone gets sick and you have to spend time re-training a new staff member – the importance of maximising the output of every staff member is critical. Pat also reassured us that while you won’t get everything right, there are the days you walk down the yard and see the things that are right!
Break out session
The seminar concluded with a break out into 4 groups to allow for feed back – the most common theme was the need to experience different situations and farming methods if at all possible before returning full time to farm. It is appreciated that this is not always possible – however it does offer benefits if it can be availed of.
The seminar was closed by Pat Horgan Area Director who thanked all present and emphasised how Ulster Bank punch above their weight in the young farmer sector with 25% of the market. Well worth attending and a very enjoyable event!
Find out more
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