As part of this week’s Ag Contractor of the Week segment, That’s Farming, profiles Peter Lynch Agri Contracting, Co Donegal. He discusses establishing his business as a teen, completing 500-acres of tillage, increasing machinery prices, and branching into selling feed.
Twenty-two years ago, Peter Lynch, married to Deirdre, established an agricultural business following his return from college when he identified an opening for tillage and hedge-cutting contracts.
The Killea, Donegal native farms a 300-acre mixed enterprise and brings 100 Friesian cattle to slaughter at 30 months.
“I was always passionate about agriculture. There was nothing else I ever wanted to do,” Peter Lynch, a Greenmount Agricultural College graduate, told That’s Farming.
“I started gradually, just working for neighbours with my tractor and their machinery, and I built it up from there.”
His father, George, helped fund the first pieces of machinery: a McConnel hedge cutter and a Kverneland three-furrow reversible plough.
“We bought the machinery for ourselves, and anything we got to work along with, we brought it with us.”
“I changed the tractor and bought a John Deere 1360 mower with a grouper. There was a bit of mowing in this area, so we concentrated on that.”
Donegal ag contractor
Peter Lynch Agri Contracting employs three part-time people plus additional workers during peak times.
They offer ploughing, sowing, mowing, baling, combining, hedge-cutting, haulage, and grain drying services.
“We would not be as massive compared to what we were. We would be back to baling 200-acres at this stage.”
“But, we would have been doing 1,000-acres of bales at one stage.”
“Our biggest services are ploughing, sowing and combining. We sow 500-acres between spring and backend of the year.”
“I had a full-time person for a long time, and then the business took a change in direction.”
“We thought we would concentrate more on the home farm. Also, put a grain store up, and we are trying to do more on the grain end of things. We have good customers over the years.”
Tractors and machinery
Peter invested in his first tractor, a Massey Ferguson 6290, 19 years ago with finance from Massey Ferguson.
His current tractor fleet includes a 2011 Massey Ferguson 6499, 2011 Massey Ferguson 6480, 05 New Holland TM155, and 1997 New Holland 7740.
“We do as much maintenance ourselves but would not be into the mechanics of the tractor.”
“We have a couple of different mechanics who would do them bits for us or the main dealer,” the Donegal ag contractor added.
Other items include a 2004 New Holland CX820 combine, with a 20ft New Holland header, a Kverneland five-furrow reversible plough, a 3M LEMKEN onepass, a Simpa 5m cultivators, a Cambridge roller, and a HORSTINE FAMERY 2,500l 24m trailed sprayer.
He also has a fertiliser mounted sower, Welger RP220 Profi-round baler, a Massey Ferguson series-185 square baler, a McHale 991BJS wrapper, a John Deere 1365 rear-mounted mower and a CLAAS front mower.
The business also uses a McConnel PA550 hedge cutter, a KUHN twin-rotor rake, and a Kverneland 20ft disc harrow.
He also utilises an Agrihire 16T dung spreader, a Star slurry tanker, a Matbro 250-110 loader, a Hitachi EX120 excavator, a McCauley low loader, a McCauley dump trailer, and an OPICO grain dryer.
The company’s grain trailers include a 12T Herron, 12T Griffith, 18T aluminium lorry conversion and a 10T homemade grain trailer.
Peter believes customer retention is “very” important.
“You like a happy customer that is always willing to come back. If you do not have the repeat customer coming back, it says a lot about your business.”
“I would like a job done to the best it possibly can. I always try to do a good job. We would make sure we went back and sorted it out if we did not.”
“I would like to have a job done as well as for everyone else as I would like someone coming to my farm to work.”
Peter outlined the challenges he faces as an agricultural contractor.
“Prices are always the challenge here on the border, but if the farmer is not making money, it is a bigger challenge.”
“The farmer needs to make money for us to make money.”
“When you take the price of bale wrap last year and the way it is going, it is very hard going to the farmers with a big massive bill and them not making money.”
“It is not our fault that prices are going up. It is just getting harder and harder to justify them big bills.”
“My biggest challenge is the price of machinery at the minute.”
“It costs a lot of money to change machinery. That is why we are still running a couple of older tractors because the cost of new ones has got prohibitive.”
“The first new Massey Ferguson 6290 tractor I bought was €45,000. Sure now, it would take over €145,000 today to buy the equivalent tractor.”
Peter believes the key elements to running a successful business are having a good connection with your customers and making sure they are happy when you leave the job.”
“If you do not have a happy customer, you will not have a returning customer. If we can have them happy, they should come back.”
He plans to stay offering the same level of service, welcome new customers and invest in new machinery.
“Over the past few years, we have scaled back our agricultural contracting business to a level that we can maintain.”
“We built a grain store, and we are trying to increase the price of our grain at farm gate level.”
He explained why he constructed this building, which he outlined, is not TAMS-funded.
“To store some grain to get a better price for it during the winter.”
“Harvest prices are normally pretty low, so it should pay for itself through time and also enhance the farm business for my two sons coming on.”
“We are also selling a bit more straw, feed and still offer agricultural contracting services and have a good customer base who will hopefully stick with us.”
“I do not know if the future is bright, but there is a future there for it anyway.”
“I have two sons, Tom (14) and Charlie (12), who are showing a keen interest. Hopefully, there is a future for agricultural contracting and farming for them,” the Donegal ag contractor concluded.
To share your story like this Donegal ag contractor, email Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming, – [email protected]
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