IFA National Dairy Chairman Sean O’Leary has said that the Teagasc/FRS pilot scheme to identify and train potential dairy operatives would help address labour shortages on Irish dairy farms, however more measures are needed to address the issue.
The scheme, currently being piloted in Kilkenny and Waterford, is to be rolled out nationally within weeks. It will offer opportunities for, among others, part-time farmers, women involved in farming, or job seekers to top up their incomes. It also has the potential to be rolled out to other agricultural sectors where labour shortages are also an issue. However, providing work permits for qualified workers will also be part of addressing the issue.
“The scheme will ensure suitable applicants receive some basic training as dairy operatives, especially in the area of milking. Teagasc, Farm Relief Services (FRS), IFA and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) have all committed to encouraging possible candidates to come forward for training. Training takes place over four weeks, the bulk of which is on farm placements, with four days in Kildalton Agricultural College. Successful applicants, after completing the training, may be employed by FRS or by farmers directly,” Mr O’Leary said.
“There is real potential here for people who need to top up their incomes through attractive part or full time employment and even a start to a promising career in the vibrant Irish dairy sector. Social Welfare recipients may, in certain circumstances, be able to work up to a certain number of hours per week without losing all of their benefits, but this will depend on their individual situation, and will have to be checked with DSP,” he added.
“While this is a very welcome, practical and timely scheme, this is only one aspect being pursued by IFA to help address labour shortages on farms. We have made detailed submissions to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with regards to the need for labour permits for qualified personnel from outside the European Economic Area. We have also sought a meeting on this issue with Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty,” Sean O’Leary concluded.