Thursday, 06 June 2019 10:55

No luck for Irish contractors

Written by 
Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Roger Parton. Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Roger Parton.

Ireland, often a source of skilled farm machinery operators for rural contractors in New Zealand, is facing even worse driver shortages than NZ.

FCI Ireland, representing farm and forestry contractors, has told the Irish Government some of its members will have to shut shop unless immigration rules change to allow NZ, Australian and South African operators to work there.

Meanwhile, FCI chief executive Michael Moroney has asked Rural Contractors NZ for help to find skilled Kiwi tractor and machinery drivers to work in Ireland’s grass silage harvest from May to July. 

“We are now facing a major shortage of seasonal machinery drivers. We know that many young Irish men go to NZ in our winter months, September to March, to work with NZ contractors,” he writes. 

“Please let us know if there are young men available with these tractor skills that have worked with machines similar to the ones we use in Ireland.”

Moroney has told his RCNZ associate Roger Parton that it would make sense longer term for the two contracting bodies to join forces in a seasonal exchange of drivers.

“This could provide these men with an interesting life and year-round work for their special skills, which are much appreciated by contractors here in Ireland.”

In March, FCI’s national chairman Richard White sought a meeting with Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, to change Irish law which excludes NZ, Australian and South African farm machinery operators from taking up work.

He said farm contractors in Ireland turn over about 700 million Euros (about NZ $1.2 billion), employ close to 10,000 people and operate about one third of the national fleet of 20,000 tractors.

“The farm contractor sector is finding it increasingly difficult to attract young entrant farm machinery operators,” White said.

“We believe that without a temporary seasonal employment permit scheme in place, some farm contractors will be forced to cease operations entirely,
due to skilled farm machinery operator [shortage], putting a threat to the prime mechanisation source that adds valuable and essential value to Irish farming and the Irish food industry.’’

The FCI has sought information from RCNZ on its AIP scheme and how it worked. It wants to get a similar scheme in place in Ireland with the ultimate goal of getting some form of national registration.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says while NZ’s situation is not as dire as Ireland’s, a major part of his job is bringing together the annual agreement in principle (AIP) with Immigration NZ and Work and Income NZ, which allows mostly Irish and UK machinery operators to work here in our summer season.

“Every week we get asked by contractors if we can help them find experienced operators,” Parton says.

“We hope the Government’s proposed move to employer-led immigration arrangements in rural areas will assist, but that remains to be seen. We are happy to work with our Irish counterparts to help provide year-round work – a win-win for both countries, especially if the governments align.”

More like this

COVID-19: Misery on UK farms

Wake up, New Zealand: that’s the message from a New Zealander trying to manage a large dairy farm in the UK amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Managing poo made easy

Irish slurry handling specialist Abbey Machinery is working to get more value from slurry. Business development manager international, Michael O’Grady explains. 

Featured

Rain eases drought worries

Farmers on the lower east coast of the North Island have welcomed heavy rains, which have fallen in the last week.

 

New chair for Ballance

Former Fonterra Shareholder Council chairman Duncan Coull has been elected as the new chair for Fertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flying high

This old mutt would like to know how the sanctimonious Green Party and its MPs can continue to lecture everyone…

Put it down

Your canine crusader notes that the woke folk at Landcorp – sorry Pāmu – were recently crowing about recording a…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Popular Reads

Rules driving farmers out

New farming rules around sustainability are driving elderly farmers out of the dairy industry, says agri-economist Phil Journeaux.