Discussion group farmers more likely to make more money

Farmers in discussion groups were up to 20% more likely to adopt new technologies and have higher profit margins, research has found.

As a result of adopting more best management practices those in the groups were found to have achieved higher profit margins.

The figures were taken from independent research carried out on the impact of Teagasc programmes which also use a group delivery model and have been operational in the Republic for several years.

A department spokesman said it is “too early” in the roll-out of the Business Development Groups (BDG) scheme to be able to evaluate the impact of its scheme on participating farmers. However, it’s expected the Northern Ireland programme will see similar results.

The news comes as applications to join the Business Development Groups (BDG) scheme must be submitted before 4:00pm this Thursday – December 21, 2017.

During the first year of the scheme farmers were reimbursed for their expenses to attend the meetings. However, such funding will stop from April.

Poll results

In a survey of more than 300 farmers run by AgriLand almost two-thirds (63%) said they would not continue to attend the meetings without the financial incentive.

However, the figures suggest farmers who attend discussion meetings may also benefit from higher business profits.

The groups aim to improve the technical and business efficiency of farm businesses.

Each BDG member will attend up to eight training events per year, benchmark the performance of their business and produce a development plan tailored to their farm.

Sharing information

Sharing their farm performance information with other group members and hosting a group training event are very important elements of the scheme.

Business Development Groups are open to all farmers who are interested in improving the efficiency of their farm, working together, sharing ideas and learning how other farmers solve problems.

The groups will help give farmers the skills to assess how their farm is performing and plan for the future development of their business.

The initiative is part-funded by the EU through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

Farmers can apply to join the Business Development Group scheme online, or via e-mail: [email protected]