The Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland has welcomed the draft Rural Development Programme for Ireland as part of the Common Agricultural Policy’s €12.5 billion investment in Irish agriculture.
Tom Murphy of PAC agrees that it is vital that Irish farming is efficient and competitive and that it is worthwhile for young people to consider a career in farming.
However there is one area of agri production that has not been considered, that is the requirement for a reliable and professional agricultural contracting sector. It is recognised that in Ireland it is not economically viable for the vast majority of farmers to purchase large machinery, making the role of the agricultural contractor even more important.
Agricultural contractors invest huge sums of money in machinery to service the farming sector, yet few can guarantee they will get repeat work year on year. There is not one county in Ireland where we have not had reports of Black Economy contractors undercutting the prices of legitimate contractors. Of course they can do these because they don’t have contracting insurance, don’t pay their taxes and often don’t even keep up repayments on their machinery. It is the policy of farm advisors to encourage farmers to cut their contracting overheads to the bone and therefore the Black Economy flourishes.
Allowing the Black Economy to grow unhindered results in unreliable statistical data and blurs the macroeconomic outlook, preventing effective economic and political decisions in relation to the agricultural sector.
PAC Ireland is determined to have the pivotal role of agricultural contractors recognised and valued but at present there is little information available that can be backed up by research. PAC recognises the need for HARD FACTS and to this end is conducting a survey of the Agricultural Contracting Sector in Ireland. The results of this survey will form the basis of a Report to Government on the Future of the Agricultural Contracting Sector. A survey has been distributed throughout Ireland and it is in the interests of all contractors to complete and return it. If you are a contractor and have not received a survey please go to the following website: www.pacireland.com.