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Regional Farm Labour Database being set up

Teagasc are setting up a Regional Farm Labour Database that would link farm families where a farmer or a farm worker becomes ill with COVID-19, with an available relief worker. This is being done in collaboration with the Farm Relief Services (FRS), and with the support of the farm organisations IFA and ICMSA.

This initiative by Teagasc, FRS and the farm organisations will support farmers and their families during the current COVID-19 outbreak.  In the event of a farmer (main farm operator) becoming ill and/or testing positive for COVID-19, they may require hospitalisation and isolation during their period of recovery.  For many families in this situation, the main farm operator will not be able to carry out routine farm operations. 

Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “We are encouraging farmers, rural dwellers and students with capacity and skills to help out with farm tasks such as Milking, Calf Rearing, Grassland Management, Silage and Meal Feeding and General Farm Duties, to contact Teagasc advisory and register on a locally held database. With their consent, their details would be shared with farm families via the Farm Relief Services (FRS), in the event of farmer becoming ill with COVID-19.”

Peter Byrne, CEO of FRS said: “In this time of uncertainty we must make every effort to prepare for the impact a spread of COVID-19 may have on individual farmers. While FRS have a substantial database of experienced operators, we must plan for a situation where demand for FRS operators increases dramatically. This joint initiative between Teagasc and FRS, supported by the farming organisations, will help identify suitable people that FRS can call on, if required. Geographical location can sometimes be an issue in matching farmers who require additional labour with available operators. Increasing the database of suitably trained and experienced people should help in such situations.”

IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said this initiative by Teagasc is important to keep farms going through what is a difficult time. He said: “We have encouraged farmers to complete their Plan B form on our COVID-19 information hub, which would allow somebody filling in to get working straight away. In the event of a farmer having to self-isolate, anybody taking over has to have the full picture of how the farm works and what has to be done to complete day-to-day tasks.”

The President of ICMSA Pat McCormack said the establishment of a labour register is a pragmatic and prudent thing to do and might allay fears and anxiety amongst farmers. Pat McCormack said that anything that gave a degree of stability and provided reassurance was to be wholeheartedly welcomed:  “Some farmers will get sick and we need to put plans in place to replace labour on farms. We fully support this initiative from Teagasc and FRS”.

Thomas Curran, Manager of the Teagasc Cork West advisory region said: “If you are available to work on farms to assist fellow farmers during this period, please ring the designated Teagasc regional number in the table below, or your local Teagasc office. You will be registered on the Teagasc Regional Labour Database.  With your permission, your details will be passed to FRS and they will contact you in the event of a farmer needing assistance.”

Teagasc RegionOfficeContact Number
Cork West Skibbereen 028-21888
Cork East Middleton 021-4631898
Kerry Limerick Killarney 087-3826808
Tipperary Thurles 0504-21777
Kilkenny Waterford Dungarvan 058-41211
Carlow Wicklow Wexford Johnstown Castle 053-9171350
Dublin Meath Louth Laois Kildare Naas 045-879203
Offaly Westmeath Cavan Monaghan Tullamore 057-9321405
Roscommon Longford Roscommon 090-6626166
Clare Galway Athenry 091-845804
Mayo Ballina 087-6951432
Donegal Sligo Leitrim Ballymote 071-9183369