Bursary is a great chance to boost your dairy career – Dermot Meehan

In this blog post, Dermot Meehan, a dairy farmer and a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire, explains how he benefited from an RABDF training course. Future Farmers of Yorkshire is making the course even more accessible this year.

Originally from a suckler and sheep farm in Ireland, I moved to the UK permanently in 2016 after completing a degree in Agricultural Science at University College Dublin.

I am currently herd manager on a 500-cow autumn block calving unit in North Yorkshire where we produce milk for Wensleydale Creamery. We aim to produce as much milk from grass as possible with the cows usually grazing from late January to November each year.

With a large family and a small farm at home, my aim has always been to find a contract farming agreement or joint venture.

However, I had limited knowledge of what an agreement would entail. So, when the opportunity to attend an Entrepreneurs in Dairying training course came along, I jumped at the idea and attended in autumn 2019.

Dermot MeehanThis business training programme is organised by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) and for the first time this year, the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group is offering bursaries for a number of successful Yorkshire applicants.

The course caters for people from every background, from those with family farms, to managers of large-scale units, to people with very little experience but ambitions to progress up the farming ladder.

It helps aspiring dairy producers and those looking to take the next step in their dairy career. Key topics covered included contracts, joint ventures and opportunities, people management, tax, finance, succession planning and presenting your business case.

What it offers is an opportunity to focus the mind on a business plan and a personal plan for your own future, which may involve moving away from the day-to-day stockmanship duties.

For me, the most interesting areas were people management with Paul Harris and financial analysis with Tony Evans.

A fundamental part of any business is the staff and how they are looked after. The time spent with Paul provided a valuable insight into people’s personalities. I gained an understanding of how other people think and it made me assess the characteristics of my own personality.

The days spent with Tony covered a wide range of topics, but Tony’s forte is finance and business analysis. Tony offered an in-depth knowledge of how a business should be run profitably, dissecting costs and producing a business plan for the future.

The majority of the 2020 course will be run virtually. An application form is available on the RABDF website, the deadline is 28 August and the course starts in October.

I would encourage anyone to consider applying to go for it and there is nothing to lose from applying for a bursary from Future Farmers.

Entrepreneurs in Dairying has helped me to focus my mind on what I need to achieve to get to the next step on the farming ladder, as I am preparing to enter a contract farming agreement in the future.

It has also given me the opportunity to meet people with similar ambition and aspirations, and we have stayed in touch since and continue to speak on a regular basis.

  • Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 to bring together like-minded farmers, vets and industry professionals. Organising a programme of debates, socials, workshops, farm walks and industry visits for our 1000 members, it is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. For more information about this bursary, email futurefarmers@yas.co.uk

Read more: Life in potatoes during times of Covid – Joe Weston

Watch: NFU President Minette Batters gives Future Farmers address at the Great Yorkshire Virtual Show

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Joe WestonAlastair Trickett