Farming

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'Cut costs to counter drop in milk price' falling pri

A West Cork dairy farmer believes that he can "make as much money or more" from his enterprise in 2015, despite the collapse in milk price, by cutting costs.

Pat O'Brien (pictured right) said that a lower price should not mean a lower income, but rather an opportunity to prioritise on expenditure.

He told farmers at the Positive Farmer's Conference that his herd size will increase this year from 230 to over 300 cows despite predictions that milk prices will fall by 30pc in 2015,

Mr O'Brien insisted that proper forward-planning and cash-flow will enable him to maintain or improve his income.

He farms 135ha with his wife Claire at Kilvinane, Dunmanway, where they have three children. He leased a family farm from his parents in 2000 and began with 60 cows.

"Keep the cheque-book in your pocket and don't spend on non-essentials," was his advice.

The main driver for this farm business, which has consistently been profitable irrespective of milk price and weather, has been a strong emphasis on margin and cash-flow.

Mr O'Brien's milk price was about 7c/l above average due to milk constituents of 4.7pc fat and 3.8pc protein.

The farm remains profitable even at milk prices of less than 30c/l, and with good cash-flow management, there has always money to pay the bills, according to Mr O'Brien.

Farm planning and investment decisions are always made following discussion with Claire.

The couple also use five-year plans to project the income requirements of a growing family and inflation.

Mr O'Brien said learning from others was one of the joys of farming: "I love learning from other farmers who see no limit to what can be achieved. I now love farming and I love the business of farming," he said.

This farm is run with 2.5 labour units and Mr O'Brien still finds time to serve on the boards of Lisavaird Co-Op, Ballinacarriga National School and coach local GAA teams.

Indo Farming