This post is one of a series featured in Farmers Guardian while I took part in the Fresh Start Dairy Academy, a farm business training and mentoring course for new entrants into dairy farming.
Our third Dairy Academy evening session was on communications, tenancy applications and presenting a business case.
Alison Rickett, the Dairy Academy project manager from Fresh Start, began the evening with Make it Your Business, an overview of the business planning process.
She started by considering the strengths and weaknesses we bring to the enterprise ourselves, then discussed how to look at the farm itself and how it fits in with our objectives, and finally covered writing the business plan and preparing for interviews for tenancies and/or finance.
Following Alison was Ed Brown from HSBC Agriculture. He talked about the banks’ role in providing working capital and loans for asset purchase, summarising pricing/interest rates, types of security and gearing ratios. He also covered business plans from the perspective of banks and what they are looking for in a lending proposal.
Finally James Tyler-Morris, the Staffordshire County Farms Manager, spoke to us about council farms and tenancies in general. Unlike many counties, Staffordshire has retained its dairy farms, managing one of the largest council dairy estates.
He gave us an invaluable and detailed insider’s insight into the application process: how to approach viewing days and what to make sure you look for, writing an application and of course the interview.
Tenancies are scarce and incredibly competitive, and he finished by encouraging us to persevere, learn from feedback, stay positive and keep applying.