April 13, 2015
Agricultural Contractor’s Conference

The PAC/Teagasc Conference for Agricultural Contractors on Monday 16th November was well attended and a great success; from the morning sessions right the way through to machinery demonstrations in the afternoon. Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle gave the Keynote Address and delegates were encouraged to hear confirmation that contractors have a long term role to play in supporting farming output to reach government targets.  Professor Boyle also advised the contracting sector that there were many new areas open to contractors, who should ensure they are prepared for new opportunities as they arise.

Ciaran Roche from FBD, who were the conference sponsors, gave an excellent presentation on Champions for Change, a initiative spearheaded by FBD to raise awareness of safety in Irish agriculture.   Contractors have a relatively good record with regard to safety, but Ciaran pointed out that contractors visit many farms during the working year and they could have a role as key influencers in bringing the safety message to farmers.  Read more about Champions for Change.

The Road Safety Authority was represented by Vehicle Standards Engineer Justin Martin.  In his presentation, Justin outlined clearly the changes contained in the Revised Standards for Agricultural Vehicles that will come into force on the 1st January 2016.  Justin stayed on well into the afternoon answering a raft of questions from delegates.

James Maloney, Machinery Editor with the Irish Farmers Journal, discussed comparative trends in tractor purchases and presented an update on new innovations in tractors and machinery as seen at Agritechnica 2015.

Teagasc Machinery Specialist, Tom Ryan informed contractors about their obligations under the new Sustainable use of Pesticides Directive, followed in the afternoon by machinery demonstrations.

Deirdre Sinnott-McFeat from the HSA Work Related Vehicle Safety Unit brought contractors through their obligations to employees under driving for work legislation. Emphasis was placed on ensuring that those driving your machinery have the correct current driving licence and always being aware of any points they might have that could invalidate your insurance.  We were also reminded of the importance of making sure drivers are not over the alcohol limit after celebrations the previous night.

Dermot Forristal, Mechanisation and Crops Researcher with Teagasc gave a great presentation where he defined the role of today’s contractor and discussed quality and timeliness, how to estimate costs and set a price, emphasising that if your price does not include a reasonable profit you will not remain in business long term.

Helen Hourihan from the Health and Safety Authority introduced BeSMART, a new free online tool to help agricultural contractors carry out risk assessments and produce a safety statement.  Follow this link for more information

Teagasc Lecturer Stuart Goodwin, gave the delegates an overview of what they could expect to see during the afternoon session of machinery innovation and demonstrations.

PAC would like to thank FBD who sponsored this event and all the organisations who participated and helped to make this conference a success.