Farmers must make better attempts to accurately measure the performance levels they are achieving within their businesses, according to Dunbia’s head of Agriculture and Research Dr Jonathan Birnie.

“But then they must make full use of this information in terms of the actual decisions they make,” he said.

Birnie was a speaker at the recent YFCU agri conference, held in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.

While not suggesting that benchmarking should be made mandatory, he did put forward the suggestion that a two tier farm quality assurance scheme could be introduced with, possibly, a greater focus on farm performance recording built in.

The reality is that the use of digital technology is making it easier for farmers to record performance levels within their business on an almost real-time basis.

Birnie said that farmers must commit to learning throughout their careers.

“But different people learn in different ways, just as everyone has a different skill set. Some farmers find participation in discussion groups as an excellent way to learn new ideas.

“For other people, a more formal setting is more appropriate. But everyone can learn. But it must be delivered in a way that best suits the individual.”

Jonathan Birnie

He also suggested that farmers should consider the feasibility of working with an independent to effect real change within their businesses.

This is a course of action taken regularly within every other sector of the economy: so why not agriculture?

“If such an approach is not an option for a single farm business, there is no reason why a number of farmers cannot group together in order to make this a reality.”

The Dunbia representative pointed out that change is a process.

“And it may take time for the wheels that are set in motion to make a genuine difference.”

He said that changes introduced within a farm business must be straightforward in nature.

“Complexity is totally counterproductive.”