The farm advisors offering peace of mind
GROWING CC Agricultural Consultants celebrate 25 years in business
Maximising your payments from the various farm schemes has never been trickier.
With three decades of experience in consultancy, Oliver Crowe ensures his farmer clients are in the right schemes to suit their lifestyles, and are receiving every cent they are entitled to. In short, he gives them peace of mind.
With the deadline of Monday, May 29 looming, applications for Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) will be on many farmers’ minds.
“There’s probably a lot of farmers thinking: will I fill it out myself? Realistically very few will actually attempt to do it themselves,” says Oliver sitting in his busy Cornafean office, a stone’s throw from the main Cavan-Killeshandra Road.
While Oliver acknowledges it is “absolutely possible” for farmers to complete the application for BISS - the latest incarnation of the Basic Payment Scheme - he warns that potential pitfalls are many.
“There is a box for ANC - disadvantaged payment. Unless you tick the box, you won’t get the payment. There is another box that some farmers tick by mistake declaring themselves as inactive farmers,” he notes.
When it comes to ‘space for nature’, he observes that many farmers are making unnecessary work for themselves.
“One you have more than 10% of your land classified as ‘space for nature’ you don’t have to do anything to get an Eco payment - but most farmers aren’t even aware of the 10% rule. So they are picking options like low fertiliser, or cutting back on stock or hedge-planting that they don’t need to pick at all.”
He notes that this year in particular “it is extremely difficult” for someone untrained to avoid mistakes.
“Every year up to now if your application form didn’t change, there was an option to tick a box saying ‘No change in application’ and it automatically submitted the previous details. That button is gone this year.”
Oliver insists on meeting all new farmer clients in person. He understands the importance of the personal touch.
“All new customers are dealt with by myself. It’s important to get to know them,” Oliver assures.
That personal relationship has stood to both Oliver and his clients. The CC Agricultural Consultants team now have 1,300 clients on their books, mostly from Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Monaghan.
Oliver insists that he and his team will weigh up all options for their farmers and recommend the schemes that are in their best interests.
“We cover every scheme: ACREs, Organics, Suckler Scheme,” he says.
“As a consultancy business we don’t leave out a scheme. If there is a scheme that suits a farmer, regardless of any hassle for us, we will help them get on that scheme as best we can.”
With his own beef herd in Templeport, Oliver understands first-hand the needs and concerns of farmers. His commitment to his clients reflects how he views CC Agricultural Consultancy as more than a job, it’s a vocation.
“I’m in here at 6am, and I go home at 8pm - I answer the phone seven days a week,” he says.
This year every farmer with CC Agricultural Consultants gets a half hour visit from either Oliver or his assistant Helen. In an aging sector, Oliver finds that farmers’ personal circumstances are increasingly relevant in advising them on the most suitable path to pursue.
“All these schemes last five years,” says Oliver. “So we would sit down and say, ‘Look, in five years’ time are you going to be suckling? Let’s be realistic. If you are not, is there a person at home going to be suckling?’
“In recent years there is much more counselling to what we do, people discuss their life as well as their BISS form.”
It often emerges in such conversations that an elderly farmer has no obvious successor. Looking to the future he discusses whether they would feel comfortable leasing out their land, or scale back in intensity of their enterprise.
“Rather than keeping 20 sucklers, you can keep five and draw an organic payment. Or keep no sucklers - and just keep cattle for the summer time and get an organic payment. You will have far more money for less work.”
With a Masters Degree in organic farming, and running his own organic enterprise, Oliver is well placed to advise on the scheme’s suitability.
“It has become a big part of our business. Before Christmas we helped 138 farmers join the new scheme,” he says.
When you consider that there were 2,134 applications across the whole of the Republic - CC Agricultural Consultants alone accounted for a remarkable 6.5% of that total.
The quarter of a century Oliver has devoted to CC Agricultural Consultants hasn’t dimmed his enthusiasm for the job.
“I’m building this business around the younger generation of agricultural consultants,” he says referring to his six colleagues - office manager Ciara fee and five agricultural consultants.
“I know they are reliable and give clients the highest quality of service.”
It is that level of service that has enabled CC Agricultural Consultants continue to thrive, and this year mark 25 years in business.
“It signifies that we supply a quality service, which has enabled us to build ourselves up to helping 1,300 clients. It’s down to service and people know you are going to be there for them, that you are reliable.”
Reliability is key as the client places a huge degree of trust in CC Agricultural Consultants. Oliver insists they always do their best for their farmers.
“The reason a lot of farmers go to a consultant is for peace of mind. If their payment doesn’t arrive in September - they just pick up the phone: My money didn’t come, Johnny got his.”
It’s then over to Oliver and his team to raise the matter with the Department from a position of strength, as they know the merits of the application.
The farmer can rest at ease.