26 May, 2021

Time to Diversify?

Our Irish Farm Report 2021 takes a look at one of farming's biggest trends, diversification. Our Head of Food & AgriBusiness, David Leydon, shares his advice on diversifying your farm.

Increasingly, farmers are using diversification as a means to develop their business and generate additional income. We are seeing some interesting trends emerge across agri-tourism, food and ag-tech.

While being resourceful is part and parcel of farming life, taking on a diversification project can be daunting. The first step is to assess the assets at your disposal, research trends and identify your diversification opportunities.

Before progressing your project, it is vital to conduct thorough market research. You need to get a firm handle on demand so that you can have confidence when investing in your new venture. Seek assistance from your contacts and take advantage of relevant incentives. The Teagasc Options Programme, for example, is designed to help farm families examine ways to generate additional income and stimulate new ways of thinking.

You will need to work with your business advisor and accountant to develop a credible business plan with realistic financial projections, a clear roadmap for growth and strategies to address potential risks on the path ahead. Investors or lending institutions will want to see this plan if you are applying for finance to fund your project.

Branding is one of the components that should not be overlooked. Creating a brand that resonates with the consumer can be difficult and is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful projects. Good communication and effective use of social media will help you develop a community around your brand, a tribe of supporters to help you promote your product and generate sales.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of supports for start- up businesses including the LEADER programme which provides grant aid for projects that help develop local areas. Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland also provide support for eligible businesses. Grants are available for market research, product development, financial planning, capital investment and much more. For details, see ifac’s Food and AgriBusiness report, available online at https://www.ifac.ie/ifacreport/

By improving income on rural Irish farms, diversification supports viability and can help overcome succession difficulties. Ifac’s Food and AgriBusiness team have assisted many farmers to diversify their business. Our services cover everything from market research to brand development and assistance with sourcing funding. If you are contemplating taking the next steps on your entrepreneurial journey, why not give us a call? We are here to support you and wish you the best of luck on this exciting journey.