Change what you can control

FARMERS have little control over prices offered for their output in an increasingly volatile global market. Instead they should focus on making changes to those aspects of their business environment they do control.

These were the words of advice to British Blue cattle breeders meeting in Ballinderry from Bank of Ireland agri-manager William Thompson.

“Take a look down your accounts, analyse them, and see where costs can be controlled without impacting on efficiency, for example, by availing of the Bank of Ireland fee free offer.

“Seeing what others are doing to learn from their successes and failures is an excellent idea yet many farmers fail to use the benchmarking service offered by CAFRE at Greenmount.

“As a banker from a farming family I would strongly advise farmers to benchmark their farm business performance. This service is totally free and after even the first year many farm businesses show a remarkable boost in efficiency.

“Getting this independent, totally confidential business appraisal for free will reveal opportunities to improve farm income.

“Just as progressive pedigree Blue Cattle breeders record with Breedplan to ensure their customers have the figures to help them select a new bull I would urge farmers to sign up for benchmarking.

“When it comes to investing in your farm business do look at the real returns from that proposed spend and the ability of your core business to cover costs. Just because a neighbour has invested in a new piece of machinery does not mean it makes business sense for you. Perhaps the investment choice should be in better swards, genetics and accommodation?

“We are all different and as is every farm so following the flock is not always the best route to prosperity and peace of mind.”

Continuing William reiterated that funding was readily available from the Bank of Ireland for farm investments that make business sense.

“If your 90 cow dairy herd is not leaving a decent profit then doubling cow numbers will not guarantee better family income. Indeed the opposite might be the case due to having to rent more land and work even longer hours.

“Doing good business means a win, win situation for both parties, the Bank of Ireland and the farmer so we only lend against investments that make business sense on the bottom line.

“Taking time to keep your bank informed of progress, problems and plans is important. Dropping a bomb shell on the bank manager’s lap days or hours before extra credit is needed does not build relationships and helps neither party!”

Continuing William added: “At Bank of Ireland we are building our agri-business with some of the best farmers in the country, including many young couples.

“For some this may include helping invest in alternative enterprises, including poultry houses and in a few cases plans to produce renewable energy, a sector still in the early stages of development.”