Managing change and the future of farming key topics at agri event

Managing change and the future of farming were key topics at an agricultural event organised by Ulster Bank in Kilkenny today (April 25).

Farmers and representatives from agri businesses attended the ‘Building Capabilities’ event in the Newpark Hotel earlier today.

The seminar was led by a panel of speakers, which included: Pat Deering, TD; Dr. Ailish Byrne, senior agriculture manager at Ulster Bank; PJ O’Keeffe, dairy farmer, Co. Kilkenny; Pat Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Nurseries; Niall Flynn, dairy farmer, Co. Waterford; and Stephen Trant, agriculture business development manager at Ulster Bank.

The discussion focused on topics such as: strategies to build capabilities and manage change on farms; current and future farm systems; funding for growth plans; and how to improve work-life balance.

Some practical advice on mental health and ways to best deal with the pressures faced by those working in the farming sector were also addressed at the event.

Commenting on the event, deputy Deering – who is the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine – explained that the event was “an opportunity for me to encourage farmers and agri businesses to re-double our efforts to achieve the Food Wise 2025 vision for the sustainable growth of the sector”.

“It’s a challenging time for the agriculture industry with issues like fodder shortages, Brexit and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and that’s why this event is so important – so we can look for solutions in a collaborative way,” he said.

Sharing ideas and experiences

The importance of sharing ideas and experiences so that farmers can learn and benefit from one another was underlined by PJ O’Keeffe – a dairy farmer from Callan, Co. Kilkenny.

Like most businesses, farmers have to plan for the future and ensure that we are well equipped to deal with the changes that lie ahead.

“Helping each other through shared experiences is a great way to do just that. I was delighted to take part in the Ulster Bank seminar this morning and hear from local farmers and agri businesses about the opportunities and challenges we all face and how we can overcome them together,” he said.

As many farmers are planning for the rest of 2018 – and beyond – Ulster Bank’s Dr. Ailish Byrne acknowledged that managing change is an important part of that planning.

“We’re delighted to offer support through our Building Capabilities event and provide the opportunity to debate issues, share information and ultimately solve problems.

We understand that farmers have specific needs and Ulster Bank has a number of supports in place dedicated to farmers such as our dairy farm expansion loan, pasture loan, cash-flow planner and our young farmer package.

“Our dedicated agri managers are out meeting farmers and agri businesses to find out more about how we can help them grow and fulfil their ambitions,” she concluded.