Diversifying from traditional enterprises supports viability
Alternative revenue streams can be anything from glamping to artisan foods, writes Teagasc's Barry Caslin
Diversification is not for everybody. Growing food is still the core business of most farmers but there are certainly areas on all farms that we know are not delivering a productive or sustainable return, and there is an increasing number of alternative options.
However, diversification ventures often require a different set of skills and resources than those needed for the farm business.
There is now a real mix of farmers looking into how to diversify their business away from core farming, from the biggest farms in the country right down to landowners with just 10 acres. Many people focus on the more standard diversifications such as glamping, but there are also more innovative enterprises, such as on-farm restaurants, artisan food and renewable energy.
Adding value through diversification is going to be key to support the future viability of small-farm businesses. With such a wealth of options out there, which ones are best suited to your existing enterprise and budget? Farmers really need to think carefully about what type of enterprise they choose. If you're going to do it, you've got to get up to it every day and want to do it forever.
Key considerations in farm diversification
• What are your key interests and what are your skills?
• Why are you contemplating a diversification project? If your reason is to make money you have to know if the project will deliver the best use of your time and money.
• Why are you choosing a particular type of farm diversification enterprise? Very often people can get an idea into their head but do not consider whether the project is suitable for the location. The project must also suit your own skillset and you need to recognise competition in the area.