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Tractor of The Year 2020 results
Challenges at
Home and Away
By Tom Murphy
Professional Agricultural Contractors Ireland
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend an EU meeting to
discuss support strategies for small farmers in Europe, which was
held in Bucharest and hosted by the Romanian Government.
Representatives and stakeholders from 17 countries were in
attendance. Small agricultural and forestry holdings form an
integral part of the European countryside, providing diversity
of landscape and a livelihood for millions of people and their
future wellbeing and viability is as important as that of the much
larger agribusinesses. There was a packed agenda with plenary
sessions and interactive workshops, the overall aim of which was
to promote networking among people and projects dealing with
innovation and the adoption of new technologies in small farm
and forestry holdings. Participants explored ways in which to
identify common challenges and solutions and understand the
elements required to improve support strategies for the smaller
farming enterprise. From an agricultural contracting perspective,
the supporting role we can play was not something many of those
present had considered. Needless to say, the main thrust of my
intervention was to highlight the agricultural contracting
sector as a way to increase productivity and bring the benefi ts
of smart farming to smaller farming enterprises, without farmers
having to invest in high cost machinery. Delegates concluded that
there were more productive ways for farmers to invest monies in
improving their farms and it made sense to leave big machinery
investment to agricultural contractors. It might be a good idea
for Irish Government policy makers to attend such meetings to
partake in rational debate in relation to the place of the agricultural
contractor within the Irish farming sector.
At Home
As I write, there is a letter from PAC Ireland on the desk of the
Minster for Agriculture, Michael Creed. It addresses the issue of
the Department of Agriculture's decision to exclude agricultural
contractors from access to EU machinery grants, technically
veering into the area of unfair competition. However, more
importantly it requests that the Minister establish a forum of
stakeholders to determine the long term role the Department of
Agriculture expects the agricultural contracting sector to play in
the future of farming in Ireland. If the Department recognises the
importance of agricultural contractors to the future of farming
then PAC recommends that the Minister establish a Register of
Agricultural Contractors and instigate a survey of the agricultural
contracting sector to establish the stability of the industry and
also the situation with regard to succession plans within current
contracting businesses.
Season's Greetings
At this time of year, on behalf of PAC Ireland, I wish everyone a
Happy Christmas and a peaceful, safe and successful 2020.
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