Dairy Farmer Michael Ryan Has an Inspiring Business Story – AIB is Backing Brave

Michael Ryan with cattle in the background.

19 Mar 2015

Posted in:  Agri Finance

Dairy farmer Michael Ryan from Tipperary is unstoppable. He gave us his inspiring business story, talked about opportunities for future growth in farming and his passion for what he does for a living. At AIB, We’re Backing Brave and running a series of initiatives especially for small businesses and farmers. As part of this initiative, we had to learn what Michael Ryan had to say about the farming business and its great potential.

One piece of land, multiple generations of farming

The land Michael farms was first acquired by his Grandfather in 1942 from cousins of his in Thurles. The farm is located 1km from the Rock of Cashel in an area called Dean’s Grove. Two years later, Michael’s Father was born and when he became older, thus began a rich history of multiple generations of the Ryans running the farm together.

Like his Dad before him and now his own son, Michael has been on the farm since he could walk but he’s aware farm can be a dangerous place and safety is always a priority. Michael is driven by a love and appreciation for the animals and the land. For him, there’s a wish and the will to make the genetics on the farm as good as they can be. The greatest reward comes when he sees animals born in January that come to fruition during the year and come into the milking parlour to perform to their best.

Farming is not just in his genes, Michael has a Degree in Agricultural Science from UCD. Armed with the scientific knowledge behind farming, Michael also develops a practical expertise by working with other organisations and farmers. An ethos of constant learning aided by an open mind that absorbs the experiences of other farmers, has been essential to his professional development. Every day is a school day.

Getting past the Milk Quota to where the Grass is Gold

Up until now, a generation of farmers had been restricted to grow their business by a milk quota, a license to produce only a certain quantity of milk. In April 2015, this will be abolished. This will herald a massive opportunity for young dairy farmers in Ireland. This is a critical time for growing a farming business because of the high quality grass available in Ireland. This is premium feed is also the cheapest form of feed.

In line with this exciting opportunity, Michael’s objective is to grow his herd from 80 to 100 and work the farm as intensely as he can. With an exceptionally good genetic herd, ranking amongst the top 100 in Ireland, there is great scope within his farm to grow and develop a simple sustainable business for him and for his family.

Tied to the land, but free to manage

While Michael is tied to his business, farming allows him a certain amount of freedom. He works with Nature’s cycle but gets to choose his own hours too. The spring months mean long days but once he gets into the month of April and for the rest of the year, the day can be manipulated to suit himself and the family.

“Any young farmer can be working with their dad or with their mother, but once you get the cheque book you have to make the decisions. The cheque book means whatever you sign, whatever you pay for; it’s your responsibility” – Michael Ryan

The biggest challenge for a dairy farmer? The responsibility of making the key business decisions. Every choice needs to be thought out very clearly and has to be in line with the farm’s wider goals and objectives, both short and long terms. Michael firmly believes that if you don’t have a plan, as the clichés go, you will fail.

While Michael would love for the farm to stay within the Ryan family, he said there will be no pressure on his son Micheál to follow in his footsteps. He loves the enthusiasm and excitement that his children bring to the farm and finds great joy in bringing in the cows with them, joined of course by Bertie the Sheepdog. It’s moments of magic like this and his adoration and connection to the land that reassure Michael that he’s doing the right thing in business and life. Being Brave has its benefits.

Hear Michael’s full story, take a look at our video below.

To learn more about how we’re Backing Brave and supporting businesses, connect with AIB on Facebook, LinkedIn and follow @AIBBiz on Twitter.

Michael Ryan is a customer of AIB. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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