Farm Partnerships provide Wide-Ranging Benefits to Irish Farmers
A new Teagasc study has highlighted numerous benefits associated with Farm Partnerships, ranging from improved financial performance to enhanced quality of life and safety on farms. The three-year study involved case-studies of Irish farmers’ experiences of Farm Partnerships and focused on the wide variety of farmers who have established partnerships in Ireland: fathers and sons; neighbouring farmers; brothers; brothers in-law; mothers and sons; fathers and daughters; husbands and wives.
“Farm Partnerships can be established to accommodate a wide variety of circumstances, needs, preferences and aspirations,” said Teagasc Sociologist
Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh. Farm Partnerships were found to be attractive to Irish farmers because they could maintain the value and style of family farming, while also achieving additional scale and expertise to allow for more profitable and sustainable farm enterprises. Dr. Macken-Walsh found that farmers’ fears about ownership rights were not a significant concern in farmers’ decisions to establish Farm Partnerships.
“Farmers can be very knowledgeable of legal issues relating to ownership and they were aware that establishing a Farm Partnership does not infringe on these rights”, she said. On the other hand, the study highlighted that a consultative approach with wider members of farm families is required to make Farm Partnerships workable. “Family farming typically involves inputs from a range of family members, and these inputs are a resource for Farm Partnerships. It’s crucial that these inputs are recognised and that family members are consulted and involved in the planning process”, she said.
Teagasc Farm Structures Specialist, Ben Roche, emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach to planning Farm Partnerships. “Farm Partnerships are flexible and their success is enhanced by dedicating time to exploring what possible forms collaboration may take and also to avoiding common pit-falls” he said. Ben Roche noted that there are almost 600 Milk Production Partnerships currently in operation. “There is substantial opportunity for Irish farmers to engage in other types of production partnerships, as well as in a wide variety of other joint farming ventures”, Mr. Roche said.
The findings of the study are presented in a guide for facilitating farmers’ establishment of Farm Partnerships and contribute to a broader Teagasc campaign that is underway to promote a variety of collaborative farming ventures.