NI farmer wins business plan award for the first time

A young farmer from Castlewellan, Co. Down, has been named runner-up in the AIB/Teagasc All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan competition.

Receiving a €1,000 prize cheque, Joe Milligan is the first Northern Irish farmer to win an award at the final of the competition.

A recent CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) graduate – with a Foundation Degree in Agriculture – Milligan impressed the competition judges with a forward-thinking business plan. The plan focused on improving farm efficiencies – taking into account pricing volatility and how a transition to dairy farming might over time affect profitability.

The top prize for the All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan was won by Hugh Massey, from Co. Limerick. Massey, a dairy farmer and student at Pallaskenry Agricultural College, compiled a business plan aimed at improving farm efficiency and building up individual cow production in milk solids.

Eoin Donnelly, a member of the regional judging panel, said: “To win an award in the AIB/Teagasc All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan competition is a phenomenal achievement.

The competition tests students’ business, agriculture and rural enterprise knowledge, as well as their ability to analysis trends and think creatively.

“Joe showcased an in-depth understanding of the sector and his enthusiasm and commitment to farming shone through in both his plan and the interview stages of the competition.

“We are delighted to see such a deserving student take home the silverware to Northern Ireland for the first time and we offer many congratulations to Joe and the other young local farmers who took part in the competition,” Donnelly said.

As well as being named winner of the All-Ireland Best Farm Business Plan competition, Milligan was also recently chosen to join the National Sheep Association’s Young Ambassador Programme.

With his degree now finished, Milligan intends to farm full-time at Castlewellan and to continue to grow the business there.