Business planning skills rewarded by First Trust Bank

Date published: 12 March 2019

First Trust Bank have announced the results of their farm business management competition for final year foundation degree students at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus.

First place has been awarded to Andrea Rooney (Tassagh), the runner-up is Christopher Ruddock (Donaghcloney) and third placed is Jamie Adair (Banbridge).

In the first part of the competition, students were asked to present an analysis of the performance of a farm that they were familiar with considering both farm enterprises and the overhead costs. For the second part, students had to propose an appropriate development idea for their farm and assess the implications of the change including its effect on cash flow and profitability. The project considered any expenditure on farm buildings, machinery or stock, bank borrowings and repayments. The plans also forecast the effect of possible changes in key costs and selling prices. 

The leading business development plans from this group of students ranged from dairy herd expansion, new entrant robotic milking unit, contracting business, suckler expansion and new start free range broiler units, with detailed costings and cashflows presented.

The competition judge from the First Trust Bank, Eoin Donnelly (Agriculture Business Manager) discussed the proposed development with each student and assessed their understanding of the proposed changes. Eoin then provided feedback to the students reinforcing the importance of business plans to show a return on the investment made through use of sound financial and physical performance figures. The use of benchmarking to ensure projections are tempered by reality is also an important tool.

Eoin further commented that each of the three business plans presented could be delivered: “The biggest challenge is always getting the plan lifted off the paper and put into action.”

Overall winner, Andrea Rooney, now progresses to the next stage of the competition in June which is the AIB and Teagasc All Ireland Challenge and includes competitors from six colleges and a full day of assessment of business plans.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - Greenmount Campus Farm Business student award winners with: (left to right) First Trust Bank Judge Eoin Donnelly, (Agriculture Business Manager); Christopher Ruddock (Donaghcloney) runner-up; Andrea Rooney (Tassagh) winner; third placed Jamie Adair (Banbridge); and Dr Kate Semple, Course Manager.
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