Coronavirus Notice to All Farmers from FCI Member Contractors

In view of the current situation and the Government instructions regarding the fight against the Coronavirus, we inform you that our yards will be closed to the public from Monday, March 16th and until further notice. In the meantime we are fully aware of the need to continue to provide you with our services.

Also, for any work orders/instructions, please contact us by phone or email to allow us to take care of your request in the best possible conditions.

Cover photo supplied by Pat Hehir Clare Agri Contracting

Supported by FBD Insurance

FCI Objectives

To represent agricultural contractors at the highest level with

politicians and the Department of Agriculture in Ireland and Europe.

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To promote good contractor / farmer relationships.

To promote the benefits of a good agricultural contracting service.

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To provide members with knowledge and courses to help them run their businesses.

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To provide a good working relationship between contractors 

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Latest News from FCI

Suggested Coronavirus Notice to All Farmers from FCI Member Contractors

 

Dear Farm Customers,

 

In view of the current situation and the Government instructions regarding the fight against the Coronavirus, we inform you that our yards will be closed to the public from Monday, March 16th and until further notice. In the meantime we are fully aware of the need to continue to provide you with our services.

 

Also, for any work orders/instructions, please contact us by phone or email to allow us to take care of your request in the best possible conditions.

 

Please remember that the health of our teammates/machine operators and you as our customers, is our priority.

 

Also, we ask that you respect with our teams the barriers/safety measures and these are:

 

- No hand contact, shaking hands, if possible pass the instructions over the phone

 

- Maintenance of a minimum of two meter safety distance

 

- Cough into your elbow

 

- Do not get in the tractor cabin with the drivers

 

- All invoices for work done will be emailed or posted and we ask you to please make payments direct to our bank account

 

We know that the spring period is a period of huge importance for your farm activities as well as ours. Be assured that we will do our best to bring you the best farm contractor service for your farm despite these new constraints. We continue to be open for business and we envisage to be able to provide you with the necessary farm contractor services for the foreseeable future.

 

Please follow the HSE Guidelines at all times which our members aim to implement with your support, in their daily activities.

 

We want to thank you in advance for your understanding and trust.

KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING

FCI calls for immediate action on Forestry Licences

 

The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) has called on the Minister for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., to issue, with immediate effect, a significant number of Tree Felling Licences, Afforestation and Forest Road Building licences, for Private and State-funded (Coillte) forestry activity, more immediately, Tree Felling or Harvesting in order to offset a national disaster with the Forestry Harvesting Contracting sector.

 

FCI has reported huge concerns among our Forestry Harvesting Contractor members, caused as a result of the unnecessary and prolonged delays in the issuing of Tree Felling Licences as administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Section. “These delays, often caused by unwarranted and unsustainable third party objections, are forcing of our many Forestry Harvesting Contractors out of work from January 2020. They will be forced to cease their Forestry Harvesting Contracting operations and to make their highly trained teams of skilled operators redundant,” said Michael Moroney, FCI Chief Executive.

 

FCI has warned the Minister that the impact of not issuing these Tree Felling Licences will mean the following:

 

•          A loss of income for these Forestry Harvesting Contractors

•          A loss of machine skill talent that cannot be easily replaced

•          Loss of expensive machines to the sector

•          Bankruptcy of operators who have years of experience in the sector

•          Reduction in forest planting as the harvesting outflow is unreliable

•          Loss of national opportunity to improve carbon sequestration from Irish forestry

 

The Association is also significantly disappointed that the role of the Forestry Contractor, who provides high capital cost machinery services for forest planting, road building and tree felling services, was not mentioned in any part of the recent “Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland” that was carried out by Jim Mackinnon, CBE on behalf of the Forestry Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

 

Forestry Contractors provide an essential service through huge levels of private equity investment in modern and efficient high capital cost efficient machinery. FCI research has shown that Forestry Contractors employ in the region of 1,000 skilled machinery operators who are trained to optimise some of the most technically proficient machines, to the highest levels to achieve huge economy of scale in Irish forest production.

 

The forestry sector in Ireland is 100% exchequer funded but it must, nevertheless, comply with EU State Aid Rules. In Ireland, forestry policy and the administration of the various schemes is the responsibility of the Forest Section of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. FCI urged Minister Doyle to now take on this responsibility to ensure the survival of the Forestry Harvesting Contractor, which is facing a huge end of year challenge.

 

The Tree Felling Licences issue relates to the right of appeal on forestry decisions. The recent Mackinnon Report reported, “In Ireland, a third party right of appeal is deeply embedded on the right to challenge land use decisions and legislation to remove this right is unlikely to be introduced. The case for placing third party rights of appeal on forestry on a similar financial basis to planning is unarguable. Fees should be introduced as a matter of urgency for making a submission on an application and lodging an appeal.”

 

Mackinnon accepted that an appeals system which allows third parties, at no cost, to challenge decisions of the Department has created further delays with significant administrative costs. It is now costing Forestry Harvesting Contractor significantly as many are now facing an empty order book for tree felling into 2020.

 

FCI Chief Executive Michael Moroney said, “The introduction of the forestry third party right of appeal process has had far reaching consequences in terms of delays but has also resulted in significant additional costs, more to Forestry Harvesting Contractors than any other sector of the forestry value-added chain. In the house planning process in Ireland there are fees for making a submission on a planning application and lodging an appeal. It is unprecedented that similar actions on licensing, felling and road access applications do not attract a fee,” he added.

 

“Jim Mackinnon has also recommended that there should be a fee for each appeal and that these should be in line with the comparable planning fees. At FCI, we are urging the Minister for Forestry to ensure that a minimum fee of €50 per objection be put in place with immediate effect, and for a period of five years, when subject to review, for all valid objections, third party or otherwise, to the issue of licences for Afforestation, Forest Road Construction and Tree Felling,” said Michael Moroney.

 

FCI is reporting that the time delays taken to reach decisions on felling license applications are now significant. “The Mackinnon report has highlighted that in August 2019, only 8% of licences for planting, road building or felling were issued within 4 months and 23% within 6 months,” said Michael Moroney.

FCI has outlined (see Table 1) the level of private investment undertaken by Irish Forest Machinery Contractors in recent years and the replacement value of their fleet of modern, efficient and high output harvesting machinery. This FCI research shows that the harvesting element of services provided by Irish Forest Machinery Contractors accounts for huge investments, many of which have not been grant supported.

 

FCI said that Irish Forest Machinery Contractors are now the most vulnerable group in a Forestry environment as a consequence of the licences delays.  These machines have been privately funded by Forest Contractors, with significant monthly repayment needs.

 

To download the Mackinnon Report Click here

Manage Costs and Your Money at Silage 2020

Many Farm Contractors are reviewing their activities following an expensive 2019 season for those contractors who make pit silage for their client farmers. Here is some useful advice for running a successful Agri contractor business. 


Know the costs involved in your running business (labour, fuel, time spent carrying out repairs and the cost of financing your machinery). Any basic costing analysis will show that a 100hp tractor is costing you, the contractor, €50/hour before you put a machine or trailer behind. 

Properly cost your silage making operation & charge accordingly, not for reasons of cash flow, for a profit to allow to reinvest in the best Machinery for your customers future needs.


Send out invoices quickly and chase for payment - it’s your money & extended credit costs your business dearly. Add interest to overdue accounts not paid after 30 days from invoicing.

Join the FCI for more

business advice

Email: info@farmcontractors.ie

KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING

L-Plate & N-Plate Driver Questions & Answers for Tractor Drivers

Question 1: Is the driver of a tractor with a W Learner Permit or a W and B Provisional Licence, required to have a qualified driver in the tractor cab with them at all times when driving on the public road, if there is a second (instructor) seat fitted to the tractor cab?

Answer 1: No, the driver who holds a W Learner Permit shall not carry a passenger in or on such a vehicle unless the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger (has a second seat) and that such a passenger already holds a full drivers licence, B or W category, otherwise NO PASSENGERS by LAW!

Question 2: If hold a ‘W’ licence Learner Permit are you required to display an L plate when driving a tractor and trailer?

Answer 2: You are NOT required to display L plates if you hold a Learner Permit in Category W, they are required for a range of other licence categories.

Question 3: If you have held a ‘W’ licence for a number of years and seek a provisional ‘B’ licence why should you have to display an L plate when driving a tractor and or trailer, if you already hold and have held for more than a year a full ‘W’ licence?

Answer 3: You are not required to display L plates if you hold a Learner Permit in Category W, they are required for a range of other licence categories.

Question 4: If you already hold a W and B licence and you are driving a tractor with a trailer/implement attached that is displaying an L or N plate from a previous driver, are you considered to be breaking the law for displaying either of these signs? If so what is the fine for such activities?

Answer 4: You are NOT breaking the law and there is no fines relating to such activities.

Farm & Forestry Contractors urge greater safety at Silage 2020

The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has produced a series of FCI Fact Sheets providing advice and practical guidance on how Contractors and Farmers, both essential workers, can work together during the COVID-19 restrictions. The aim is to keep everyone on the farm healthy and safe during the 2020 silage season.

 

FCI has advised Contractors to make sure that

any additional COVID-19 risks from their work

that could affect the farmer, and their operators

while on the farm, are reasonably managed.

If a risk can't be eliminated then it must be

minimised, in so far as is reasonably practicable.

FCI is particularly concerned about the risk

to children on farms this year. “Most children

are off school due to the COVID-19 restrictions

and the arrival of the silage contractor can provide some excitement for them, in what can be an otherwise boring time,” said FCI National Chairman Richard White. “We are urging all farm families to pay particular attention to child safety on farms over the coming weeks. We are urging farm families not to allow children into silage fields when the harvesting is taking place, from the time of mowing onwards. We are appealing to them to keep children at a safe distance away from the silage pit as trailers unload and the process of building the silage clamp begins. The risks are simply too great,” said Richard White.

 

FCI is also advising farmers to make sure:

•          that any risks from farm work are reasonably managed (eliminated or minimised) to protect the health and safety of contractors and their operators

•          that any risks from low overhead wires are made known to the contractor for the safety of operators

 

FCI believes that Contractors and Farmers must work together to meet their overlapping duties every time a contractor comes onto a farm. Because of CODID-19, having an over-the-phone meeting before work starts can help Contractors and Farmers to reach a common understanding. It can help to establish clear roles, responsibilities and actions in order to prevent any gaps in managing health and safety risks.

 

The FCI Fact Sheets include possible questions that the Contractor is advised to ask of the Farmer and questions for the Farmer to ask the Contractor before the work begins. FCI National Chairman, Richard White advised contractors, “At this time it is important to remember that the health of your team of skilled machine operators and that of your costumers remains your priority.”

 

Contractor Guidelines for Silage 2020

FCI has provided its members

with cab warning stickers and

urged all contractors to regularly

inform their driver teams about

the following summary points:

- Disinfect the interior tractor cab

and door handles at the start & at

the end of each day

- One driver, one machine, if you

change drivers disinfect the cab

& controls thoroughly

- Stick to social isolation and do

not allow others, especially

children, into the tractor cab

- It’s great that farmers can

provide food for contractors & their operators but you must adhere to social distancing rules so preferably eat outside on patio tables/yard tables – do not enter a customer’s home for food

- Provide a box of disposable plastic gloves in each tractor cab & replace each week

- No shaking hands, it is possible to give the instructions over the phone

- Maintain a minimum of two meter safety social distance

- Cough into your elbow

- If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call HSE Live at 1850 24 1850

 

Silage Pit Safety

The Association of Farm &

Forestry Contractors in Ireland

(FCI) remain very concerned

about reports of filling

silage pits/clamps to excessive

and dangerous heights, placing

vehicle operators and others

working at these pits/clamps,

at risk of serious injury.

• Contractors and Farmers should plan and agree safe operating procedures, especially with regard to silage pit/clamp filling heights, before silage harvesting commences.

• As a general rule, the finished silage pit/camp should slope at no more than 45° to the retaining walls. Loader operators must ensure the stability of the rolling equipment to prevent loss of control or overturns.

• A second advice rule of thumb is that the width across the top of the finished silage pit should be a minimum of three times the width of the loader, including dual wheels.

• Where silage pits/clamps are full to a safe level and where more grass is required to be harvested, the option of baled silage must be considered.

• Silage pits/clamps should not be constructed underneath or near ESB power lines.

• The silage storage capacity on the farm should be assessed jointly by the contractor and the farmer to ensure the matching of facilities to existing and future stocking levels.

 

“We know it is a difficult balance between work, health and safety and your critical work challenges, often determined by weather and long draws, as a Farm Contractor during silage harvesting. At FCI we advocate a reasonable approach in an effort to get the best outcome for contractors, their skilled people, and thousands of Irish farmers and their families that rely on skilled and experienced Contractors to provide their valuable and cost-effective machinery services each year,” said Richard White, FCI National Chairman.

Information Notice to FCI Member Contractors for your Drivers

In view of the current situation and the Government instructions regarding the fight against the Coronavirus, FCI is suggesting suggest some practical measures for all contractors and their teams to consider, with immediate effect.

 

At this time remember that the health of your teammates/machine operators and our costumers has to be your priority. Please give your team a clear set of instructions and if possible stick a copy of the short message (at the end of this notice) in a prominent place in the tractor cab.

Also, we ask that you to inform

your teams about the

following points:

 

- Disinfect the interior tractor cab at

the start and at the end of each day

with a disinfectant spray

 

- Disinfect the tractor cab door

handles at the start and at the end

of each day with a disinfectant spray

 

- Stick to social isolation and do not

allow others into the tractor cabin with you

 

- Children are off from school they will like a diversion from the boredom of being around the house, do not allow them into the tractor cab with you

 

- Bring enough food and drinks with you for a days work, and take two food breaks, deli/coffee shop stops are not a good idea and neither is entering a customer’s home for food

 

- Provide a box of disposable

plastic gloves in each tractor cab

for your operators and replace

each week

 

- Use disposable plastic gloves

to open and close farm gates

where possible

- Wear overalls and change them

for a fresh set each day or use

disposable overalls and dispose

each day

 

- No hand contact, no shaking

hands, it is possible to give the

instructions over the phone

 

- Maintenance of a minimum of two meter safety distance

 

- Cough into your elbow

 

- If you have symptoms, call HSE Live at 1850 24 1850

 

Please follow the HSE Guidelines at all times in your daily activities. We want to thank our machine drivers for their understanding and trust, we must all work together to protect ourselves, our teams, our customers and our business and the business of Irish farming.

 

TRACTOR CAB NOTICE FOR ALL CONTRACTORS

- Disinfect the interior tractor cab twice a day

- Disinfect the tractor cab door handles twice a day

- No entry for others into the tractor cab with you

- Use disposable plastic gloves to open and close farm gates

- No hand contact, no shaking hands

- If in doubt check instructions over the phone

- Keep a minimum of two meter safety distance

- Cough into your elbow

- Change overalls for a fresh one each day or use disposable overalls

- Bring enough food and drinks with you to last a long day and take rest periods where you get out of the cab for exercise and fresh air at least twice a day

KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING

FCI Contractor Charges Guide 2020

The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is currently preparing its FCI Contracting Charges Guide for 2020. At FCI we are satisfied that this averaged price guide will act as a reasonable guide for both contractors and farmers. However, it must be remembered this is only a guide.

These figures are produced on an annual basis and are compiled by collating an average figure for each operation from a panel of FCI Contractor Members from across Ireland. This year sees contractors quoting a 5% increase in charges, rounded off in order to cope with the increases in costs of machinery and higher labour costs since the start of 2019.

Because of the local differences the actual prices quoted in the FCI Contractor Charges Guide may vary considerably between regions, across soil types, distance travelled, size of contract undertaken, size and type of equipment used as well as the amount of product spread. There are some consistencies in terms of operating costs which transcend all regions, these include the machinery depreciation costs and the finance costs as well as the machinery purchase costs. 

The FCI is also aware that some contractors are now making individual arrangements with their customers regarding diesel (eg separate fuel surcharge, fuel used on-farm etc). The prices below do not reflect this as diesel prices are variable throughout the season. Such individual agreements may make a significant difference to contracting charges.

Agricultural contractors offer a wide range of machinery services to their customers and this is why they have been proven to be the best and economical choice for many Irish farming businesses. “FCI farm contractors have shown the ability to offer the best service to their customers, with skilled operators and modern machinery. While on occasion the dedicated land-based contractor may not always be the cheapest option, an amateur may end up costing your business more in the long run,” said Michael Moroney.

 “FCI contractors provide their customers with a professional, prompt and efficient service, with the latest equipment, that’s properly maintained and with skilled operators. They are tax compliant, hold the correct contractor insurance along with health and safety certificates to protect you and your farm business. The price and value of this service is being increasingly appreciated by many farmers as they work with their contractors to become partners in the planned future growth of many successful farm businesses,” he added.

To Download the FCI Contractor Price Guide Click Here

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