Comment: Farmers should turn derelict buildings on their lands into assets rather than eyesores
Having a farm is a huge resource. However big or small, the holding provides a wealth of opportunity. I know many of you reading this are looking at bills mounting and income going through the ground, but hear me out.
When it comes to problem solving, there's a lot of talk these days about 'thinking outside the box' and imagining something completely different.
In the case of farmers, they have no shortage of problems, but they also have no shortage of boxes. A brief look at the recently published Teagasc farm enterprise survey shows how incomes in tillage, beef and milk were on the floor throughout 2016, and while milk has shown some recovery in 2017, many dairy farmers have invested heavily and are just about staying on the right side of the letter in the post.
Everyone else is suffering, especially those in the tillage community.
For all the talk about diversification over the years, there has been very little activity inside the farm gate to generate extra income.
Many farmers have taken off-farm jobs, be they part-time or full-time, and many spouses are working outside the farm, but relatively few have looked at the resources they have on the farm and few have seriously thought about doing something with them.
In my role as roving property correspondent I have occasion to visit a lot of farms, and on every journey I see all kinds of possibilities and indeed missed opportunities.
For instance many farmers, when they develop a new farmyard are inclined to let the old one drift into rack and ruin, with some lovely old cut-stone buildings falling into complete disrepair.