Farmers are too focused on trying to access extra land and not on building sustainable relationships with farmers and land owners that will allow them to do so. This was the strong message from both Tom Curran and Austin Finn at the IGA Dairy Conference afternoon session entitled ‘Creating win/win scenarios’.

Tom Curran outlined the numerous different structures farmers could use to grow their business – partnerships, share farming, long term leasing, land restructuring and contract rearing were all discussed.

However he said too many farmers focus on what the benefit of the arrangement is for them and not what it will deliver to the other person. He said: “To work effectively with another person in any arrangement you should look at their goals, circumstances, skills and how they perceive risk. Then you look at what you have to offer and see can an arrangement meet both your needs. This process needs a lot of thought, planning and good communication between the two parties.”

Austin Finn has spent the last year travelling the country meeting people who want to get into a new farming arrangement. He said he has been amazed at the amount of farmers with blocks of land of 100 acres plus who want to take a step back.

However he cautioned the audience that many farm owners are cautious about new arrangements and developing trust is a key issue. He said: “Step back and look at your own farming reputation – how will a farm owner perceive what you have to offer? Previous experience of working with people and how your own farm is performing are two key issues. To build a relationship you need to be able to see the arrangement from the land owners view as well as your own.”