Archive for the ‘Rural Business Development’ Category

Apple Farm looks for potential to increase juice capabilities

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Irish Farmers Journal

By Peter Young

Apple Farm looks for potential to increase juice capabilities

Five apples out of every 100 eaten in this country are Irish. Yes, just five. I had to ask Con Traas to repeat that figure when he first told me. I had always assumed that we grew a lot more apples than that in Ireland.

I know some of the reason is down to seasonality but, still, it seems very, very low. The figure is even more startling when put in context that the retail value of apples sold in Ireland is around €121m.

Simple maths put the value of Irish apples at just €6m retail. There must be potential to increase this.

Con Traas of the Apple Farm believes there is. A member of the Irish Apple Growers Association, he told me there are about 40 commercial apple growers in the country.

About half of these are small-scale with just two to five acres of orchards. Con has increased the orchards on his farm to 32 acres and plans to increase this further.

Initially, the apples were sold locally, with a lot sold through their farm shop.

To add value, they started to look into processing apples into juice in 1995 and got a LEADER grant for about £10,000.

”It was a lot of money at the time,” remembered Con.

Investment has continued with new cold stores put in to store the apples for longer periods on the farm, extending the season that customers can get his Irish apples.

The latest in investment is a new processing room for juicing apples.

Focused on increasing efficiency and cutting production costs, Con is planning to spend €300,000 on the latest project.

He was approved for a 35% grant under the Department of Agriculture scheme for processing of agricultural products.

The business now employs 10 people full-time, with up to 28 local people working during the busy picking season.


Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Irish Farmers Monthly

Martin & Rea Agricultural Consultants has launched three new Services: Mediation, Debt Management and
Rural Business Development. Speaking at the launch, Richard Rea said he found it thoroughly amazing
that the Head of NAMA, the Bankers and the Financial Regulator are lacking in imagination as to how to
put in place a mini-NAMA for small borrowers and businesses. He pointed to the Farm Rescue package of
the 1980’s and said a similar package was necessary today for farmers. Tom Dawson, Agronomy Director
of Services with the Company, said farmers have been very badly affected, particularly at the back end of
last year and early this year. He said they are struggling with credit, and are experiencing great difficulty in
getting credit lines agreed with their Institutions. He said the Company had recently helped a farm family
where – in a Transfer situation, with all the Loans in the Parents’ name – the son, who was taking over the
farm, was looking to get it all transferred into his name. However, the Bank was looking to increase the
Credit Terms and more security than what was there originally. “In fairness, a lot of local Banks are quite
willing to talk to us and try and make a deal, but they are coming under pressure too from higher up the
line. Back in the 1980’s, when we were involved in a lot of this type of work, Bank Managers had more
autonomy than they do now”. While Interest Rates are nothing like they were in the 1980’s, he says
the level of Debt is substantially higher in a lot of cases. Coupled with this, the level of farm income is
making it more difficult for farmers to make the repayments.