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Teagasc outline Collaborative Farming Arrangements

Teagasc has completed a series of meetings outlining the benefits for farmers of entering into formal collaborative farming arrangements. The main collaborative arrangements being encouraged in Ireland are Milk Production Partnerships, Share Farming and Contract Rearing of Replacement Heifers.

The structure of Irish farms presents challenges in terms of farm size, age profile of the farmer, and skill set. These challenges pose a threat to farm viability and limit the options for taking advantage of the many growth opportunities anticipated between now and 2020. Greater use of collaborative farming arrangements can help deliver on the ambitious targets in Food Harvest 2020.

The main benefits of a collaborative arrangement include economic and social benefits and improving skills sets. A collaborative arrangement can offer farmers increased returns through the ability to achieve scale at a lower capital cost; the reduction of costs which are duplicated between farmers; and risk sharing. Joint farming ventures can help to address the social challenge of the ‘one man farm’ model making farming a more attractive occupation.

To assist farmers intending to enter into dairy replacement heifer rearing contracts, Teagasc has developed Dairy Heifer Rearing Agreement templates which were launched this week.

Contract rearing could be attractive to dairy farmers as it releases land for milk production and frees up labour to specialise more on dairying. It could be attractive to rearers as it provides a steady monthly cash flow and the business risks associated with drystock production are reduced.

Two templates are available from Teagasc, one based on a flat rate contract whereby payments are made by the dairy farmer to the contract rearer based on agreed fixed charges per day for each replacement heifer kept. The second version, a weight bonus agreement, has provision for a basic charge per replacement heifer per day kept plus an additional payment based on achieving agreed target weights set out in the agreement.