Tipperary farming: Despite high skills levels there is still room for improvement

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Tipperary farming: Despite high skills levels there is still room for improvement

Ireland has over 137,000 farms according to CSO figures with 18,000 being dairy farms and 80,000 being suckler and beef farms

A recent report published by ifac gave important insights into the lives of Irish farmers. Information in their 2021 Irish Farm Report recognises the challenges and opportunities within the Irish agricultural sector, and how we can support the industry going forward.

Recognised globally as experts in farming; Ireland has over 137,000 farms according to CSO figures with 18,000 being dairy farms and 80,000 being suckler and beef farms. Even though Ireland ranks high in terms of skills, efficiency, and production, we still have areas to improve.

Figures from the ifac report show that 21% of farmers employ labour on their farms. Of that group, just over 20% have written contracts in place. This is a worrying figure as employers must comply with employment legislation and Revenue regulations. Farmers who fail to do so, could face fines or legal issues. A contract provides clarity for each party and if a farmer is finding it difficult to put one in place, they should look to other methods of farm staffing, such as FRS, to help with their needs. A call to FRS to chat through your staffing requirements will help you weigh up your options.

The ifac research found that nearly a third of farmers have not taken a week-long holiday in over three years. This is a concerning statistic and one we were shocked at in FRS as we believe that taking a good extended break from the farm is vital to recharge the batteries and spend quality time with family and friends. Considering these results, we look at how FRS can help the Irish farmer to take that important break from work.

FRS have been helping farmers with their staffing needs for over 40 years and are seen as a trusted pair of hands. Farmers have become better at realising they need to take a break for their own health and wellbeing, but the ifac report shows that more farmers need to take breaks. The report also stated that 42% of farmers don’t know who to call for support with difficulties on their farm. FRS encourage farmers to give FRS a call to talk through your farm routine and get much needed help, while you take that well-deserved break.

Farmers only need to book an FRS operator for the days or hours required. Fees are fully paid to FRS and are tax deductible. This is of benefit to the farmer as they get the help they need and without worrying about PAYE, PRSI, employers PRSI, holiday pay or written employee contracts etc.

If a farmer is concerned about not having enough work for their FRS Operator to take on, the FRS Farm Staff Partnership is in place as a possible solution. This Partnership involves assessing the workload on the farm and making recommendations for the year ahead. Flexibility is the key to this partnership between FRS, the farmer and worker.

RS find that when a farmer commits to taking on an FRS worker for the agreed days per week throughout the year, they then have a year round committed source of staff and the ability to plan tasks around this arrangement. Having continuous help when needed gives time back to farmers to think, plan and relax.

The ifac Irish Farm Report also looked at technology within the sector. With the pace of technology accelerating, Irish farmers are adapting their practices to allow technology to save time, money and improve farm efficiency. With up to 80% of farmers using some form of agtech, Ireland is considered a leader in the implementation and execution of agri-tech.

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago over 90% of cattle farmers did not use any form of herd management software, as shown through research conducted by FRS and Herdwatch in 2011.

Farmers have surely come a long way since then and with over 14,000 farmers now using the Herdwatch App, as an example, just shows how famers are embracing agri technology.

For farmers looking to incorporate technology and cut down on time spent on paperwork, then Herdwatch is a great option. The farming app is approved by the Department of Agriculture, and fully compliant with ICBF and Bord Bia. The app is tailored to each farming sector i.e diary, beef etc. and has sleek features for registering calves on the spot, being able to manage breeding, carry out paperless cattle movements and recording for Bord Bia compliance.

Farmers can manage their herd or flock with the tap of a button, and even record information without an internet connection. Farmers can save more than 3 hours per week on compliance paperwork, leaving more time for carrying out farm tasks, important decision making or taking that break away.

To discuss your farm staffing needs contact your local FRS office in Roscrea on 0505-21166, FRS in Cahir on 052-7441598 or visit www.frsfarmrelief.ie

To find out more about Herdwatch and how it could benefit you, go to www.herdwatch.ie