By Seamus O'Mahony
I’M going to take the liberty of using this article to reflect on the year that has been 2016 and the challenges that the farming community face every year, but yet overcome.
There is no doubt that rural Ireland has changed and this is particularly evident within the farming community. My working life within the farming community has been, to date, much shorter than indeed many of my colleagues, however I have seen substantial change within that timeframe.
Farmyards have been improved, the demands of life have increased, farmers’ quality of life has improved, although some may not agree! The quality of their animals has improved and their numbers have grown substantially.
All this hard work is a testament to our farmers and has put Irish agriculture in a very prominent position globally, but we should never take it for granted.
Farming is a sector where there has to be a level of acceptance of price of produce, imputs, weather conditions and indeed external market conditions, such as Brexit, to mention but a few. 2016 has indeed being challenging for all sectors of farming, however there are positives especially from a dairy point of view.
It was encouraging to see the recent article in these pages by Dan McSweeney, CEO of the Carbery Group, expressing his views on milk prices for 2017, and indeed his optimism is very evident amongst the dairy community.
It would be great to see some optimism in 2017 as we must not forget that rural Ireland can be a lonely place and life will throw challenges at us regardless, be it work or personally, but there is always a solution, someone that can help. Although FDC is primarily focused as a farm finance team, throughout the year we too are pen pushers, calculator operators, financial engineers, tax practitioners – call us what you want – but it still comes back to ‘communicators’ or someone to talk to.
With the hustle and bustle of daily life, we all underestimate the need for someone to talk to – a listening ear, someone to trust, someone that understands your position and a friend to share your problems with.
Christmas, and the new rear in particular, are times for setting new goals and achievable ones at that. As we turn over a new leaf and begin 2017, we all have aspirations as to where we would like it to go, but it is important that these aspirations are achievable goals, and not just from a work point of view, but indeed from a leisure point of view.
It is very easy for all of us to get drawn into more daily work, in particular where one lives on the family farm. We may at present be in a period where physical demands on the farm are not as exhaustive as they will be in the months ahead as we face into the Spring, one needs to conscious of the the mind and body and be ready for a more challenging period ahead.
This is possibly often taken advantage of, but as time goes by so quickly, it is about getting the balance right and achieving what are achievable goals.
It is very important to take into consideration the demands of increased herd size scale and to plan accordingly for the busier months of the year to adequately resource this more intensive period, ideally within the family farm, or indeed have extra labour employed. Farmers have to be realistic in terms of their ability as the case in any business including our own.
As we look forward to what 2017 may bring, the challenges and the rewards, on behalf of FDC Group, we wish our friends in The Southern Star, and indeed all of our readers, a prosperous new year.
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