The quarterly meeting of Danske Bank’s Agribusiness team took place recently when agribusiness managers and advisors from across Northern Ireland met at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus in Antrim.
These meetings are organised to allow the Bank’s dedicated agri bankers to update their knowledge on the agricultural sector and hear at first hand from industry experts. Danske Bank has a large team of agribusiness managers and advisors who deal directly with the majority of the bank’s extensive farming customer base.
The morning session focused on internal issues for those attending with a number of presentations including Richard Caldwell, Head of Finance Centres; Robert McCullough, Head of Agribusiness and John Henning, Head of Agricultural Relations. These were followed by useful Q&A sessions with some detailed questioning on specific aspects of issues discussed.
Lunch followed in the Campus restaurant which always provides a good opportunity for further discussion and to compare notes with those working in different parts of the country.
The afternoon session then focused on dairying with the team travelling the short distance to Shanes Castle Estate on the edge of Antrim to be welcomed by Stewart Baxter, Dairy Manager, who outlined the business activities on the estate and particularly the dairy herd under his care.
The primary purpose of this visit was to better understand the importance of fertility within the dairy herd and its implications for the bank’s dairy farming clients. James Woods, RMS Manager with Genus ABS gave a comprehensive presentation on the value of fertility, relevant data measurement and the costs associated with not getting cows in calf.
He then outlined the Genus ABS Reproductive Management System and how its introduction in Northern Ireland seven years ago has led to 22,000 cows being managed on the system today. He explained the benefits and costs for local dairy farmers before RMS Technician David McCord gave a practical demonstration of how the chalk based heat detection system and data collection process works in practice.
A comprehensive discussion then took place focusing on the cost of fertility and the bank’s positive approach to dairying despite the present downturn in milk prices with John Henning from Danske Bank highlighting the importance of farmers ‘controlling the controllables’ and focusing on what happens within the farm gate.
The help provided by CAFRE and Shanes Castle Estate in facilitating this meeting is acknowledged as was the input from Genus ABS personnel especially Ervin McKinstry, NI Manager who organised the visit, and James Woods, RMS Manager together with David McCord and Gareth Bell.
Once again the consensus was that this had been a very useful meeting giving Danske Bank’s agribusiness managers a good insight into a current industry issue facing dairy farmers in Northern Ireland. This helps further improve their industry knowledge allowing them to engage confidently with their farming customers and increasingly clients of other banks.