Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland employ close to 10,000 people operating machines on farms
FCI National Chair, John Hughes sowing with a strip-till drill near Borris, Co Carlow with Mount Leinster in the background.
Photo supplied by Roger Jones
The average spend per Irish farm on Farm Contractor Services is €4,585 per annum. As there are 137,000 farmers in Ireland, the total annual spend on Farm Contracting Services by Irish farmers is €630 million.
There are 76,581 agricultural tractors registered for use on public roads in Ireland – 20% of them of 15,500 are in Farm & Forestry Contractor fleets
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To represent agricultural contractors at the highest level with
politicians and the Department of Agriculture in Ireland and Europe.
To promote good contractor / farmer relationships.
To promote the benefits of a good agricultural contracting service.
To provide members with knowledge and courses to help them run their businesses.
To provide a good working relationship between contractors
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Latest News from FCI
Sean O’Connor joins FCI as new National Commercial Manager
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is delighted to announce the appointment of Sean O’Connor as the Association’s new National Commercial Manager. Sean brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role as Ireland’s sole democratic association for Farm & Forestry Contractors and member of CEETTAR, the European Organisation of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors, prepares for an expansion of its services and membership.
Sean O’Connor is a graduate of the IT Tralee
having completed a Diploma in Agricultural
Engineering followed by a Bachelor of
Agricultural Science degree from
Warnborough College in the UK.
Sean has worked closely with Farm
Contractors as an agribusiness
professional for more than 25 years in
various roles within the agricultural sector,
selling the market leading range of crop
protection products and building film
products to major Co-ops, Plc’, machinery
dealers, buying groups and merchants in Ireland.
At FCI, Sean will be working to enhance the membership and commercial offers available to FCI members. He will explore a range of options to enhance the role of the Farm & Forestry Contractor in Irish farming.
In welcoming Sean to FCI, the Association’s National Chairman, Richard White said, “FCI has entered a new and exciting phase in its development with the arrival of Sean O’Connor to our team. We are delighted to have the benefit of Sean’s professionalism and experience to further enhance the status of FCI as supporting Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland and to get due acknowledgement for the skills and expertise of Rural-based Contractors who provide the power behind Ireland’s world-class food and forestry industries where the annual contractor sector turnover now worth more than €700 million.”
Sean O’Connor added, “This is an exciting time for the organisation and I look forward to working with contractors throughout the country, FCI is an important platform for all Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland.”
Sean is a native of Kilbrittain, Bandon, Co Cork and has interests in Gaelic football and golf.
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.
Bulk Fertilizer Spreaders and DOE Tests
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is continuing to carry out roadside checks on tractors during the summer months and FCI member tractors have been subjected to tests.
When an FCI member was recently stopped by the Gardai and the RSA during a roadside roadworthiness test, he was told that because he was doing ‘commercial’ work that his tractor was required to have a DOE test.
After representation to the RSA it was confirmed to FCI that ‘Fast tractors used by agricultural contractors, providing services to farmers, horticultural, forestry and fisheries undertakings, provided the road haulage element is not the principle objective of the service provided by the contractor, are not within the scope of the tractor testing regulations.’
It also added that these contractor operations include by way of example, slurry spreading, silage and crop harvesting as the haulage element is secondary to the principle activity.’
Manage Costs and Your Money at Silage 2020
Kilkenny Contractor elected as new National Chair of Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI)
Kilkenny man, John Hughes from
Danville, on the outskirts of the city
has been elected as the new National
Chair of the Association of Farm &
Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI)
at its recent Annual General Meeting
held online recently. John has been
an active member of the FCI National
Council for a number of years
nominated by the South East Region.
John is a second generation farm
contractor; his late father Kevin
Hughes began the family farm
contracting business back in 1947.
John, in partnership with his brother
Brendan, has operated a mainly
tillage-based contractor business at
Danville, Kilkenny for more than 25
years while having worked in farm
contracting for over 40 years.
In more recent years John and Brendan have focussed on a tillage contracting service. They provide cultivation, sowing, spraying and combine harvesting services for a range of tillage crops as well as an extensive big square baling service across the Leinster region.
As FCI National Chair John’s aim is to build the membership of FCI as without an active membership we will have no association, said John. “An active membership is the lifeblood or the association and a strong and committed membership will feed the future development of FCI,” he added.
“As contractors we trade on our reputation for good work based on our skills and ability to provide an efficient and quality service to Irish farming,” said the new FCI National Chair. “Our most valuable asset is our staff, without their commitment no contracting business can survive,” he added.
“As contractors we need to get recognition as the people who drive the tractors early in the morning and late at night, keeping the wheels of Irish agriculture moving forward,” he added. “While the silage harvest is very visible, often many contractors are also working behind the hedges and are not always as visible; they are working long hours to stay ahead of the weather and crop demands. As contractors, we need that important role to be duly recognised by Government bodies and farm organisations,” he added, “and that’s just part of what FCI does on an ongoing basis on behalf of all farm and forestry contractors in Ireland.”
At the recent FCI AGM John requested members to consider those who had gone before him in their efforts to develop Irish contractor associations and he asked for those present to especially remember the late Alan McCartney from Moynalty, Kells, Co Meath who had died during the summer months. “It is people like the late Alan McCartney who have allowed me to stand on the shoulders of giants from the past, in agricultural contracting,” added John Hughes.
John also told the meeting that FCI was the third contractor association that he had been involved in over his 25 years in the farm contracting business. “FCI has achieved more in the nine years of its existence than any other organisation before. We aim to develop FCI into an association that is representative of the work of all contractors and we can best achieve that with greater national support from all farm and forestry contractors,” he added.
Other FCI Officers Positions Elected
The 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) also elected two Vice-Chair roles in order to spread the growing workload of the Association. Mountbellew, Galway-based contractor Martin Fleming was elected as a vice-chair. Martin is currently chair of the FCI Galway/Clare region and has been a member of the FCI National Council for a number of years. Martin runs a general farm contracting business with the support of his brother Michael at Mountbellew, Galway.
Ann Hanrahan from Killylon, Birr, Offaly was also elected to a vice-chair position. Ann was co-opted to the Association’s National Council in 2019 in place of her son Keith. Ann and Gerard Hanrahan have run G & A Hanrahan Ltd, a farm contracting business that services most aspects of farm and local authority work for more than 20 years.
Martin Hanley, who operates a farm contractor business from Tara, Meath trading at Hanley Agri Ltd, was elected as the new honorary treasurer of FCI. Martin has been regional chairman of the North East Region of FCI and a member of the FCI National Council for a number of years.
Former National Chair, Richard White was elected as honorary secretary, replacing Peter Farrelly, who was elected to a new position as FCI’s new CEETTAR delegate.
Information Reminder 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
- 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
- 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
- Use disposable plastic gloves
to open and close farm gates
- Wear overalls and change them
for a fresh set each day or use
disposable overalls and dispose
- No hand contact, no shaking
hands, it is possible to give the
instructions over the phone
- Maintenance of a minimum of two meter
- 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
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
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
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.
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.
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