Industry figures at Muller’s ’Thriving through Volatility’ event gave their views on what was needed to help young farmers in the dairy sector.
Opportunities, people skills, a ‘dose of realism’ and a healthy supply chain relationship were the key things needed for the next generation of dairy farmers to thrive.
Greater links were also needed between those in the industry and those entering it.
John Allen, Kite Consulting, said what many graduates were lacking was opportunity.
“We all know a ghost dairy business,” said Mr Allen.
“They have got no succession and no drive. What they need is someone to come in the business and given them growth.
“Join them up with people who are just treading water.”
Neil Wilson, HSBC head of agriculture, said new entrants needed a healthy dose of realism.
He told of a number of young entrants ‘straight of college’ were asking for an unrealistic level of investment, telling him they had a project in mind.
“Go out and see the world. Go and see other businesses,” he added.
NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes called for tax breaks on buildings.
“For young people who wanted to invest in an existing base, this would probably help,” he said.
NFU chief dairy adviser Sian Davies added the next generation needed ‘soft skills’ as well as commercial training, such as negotiating and people skills.
Farmers need to concentrate on becoming ‘professional businessmen’ as they looked to improve their businesses and protect themselves against risk.
AHDB Scotland director and dairy strategy director Paul Flanagan said the industry needed to be more consistent in its advice to farmers.
He added only 41 per cent of farmers were benchmarking, and he wanted to focus on changing farmers’ mindsets to become businessmen.
For Neil Wilson, HSBC head of agriculture, farmers who came to him and could present a business plan and produce the important figures were the ones he was more open to lending money to.
“It is the businesses that cannot which are the problem,” he said.