‘Get organised with the help of technology’
Availing of technology and professional advice can greatly help farm families to get organised, according to Grainne Hurley, business and technology dairy advisor with Teagasc.
“Farmers are dealing with an increasing amount of administration and record keeping that isn’t going to go away,” said Grainne, who was one of the speakers at a recent forum for west Cork women in agriculture, hosted by Skibbereen and Bandon credit union.
“There is a big move online and I would encourage farmers to do their calf registration electronically, on the department’s ag food system, which will get rid of the need to maintain the on-farm bovine register – known as the ‘blue book,” she said.
People can make a lot of errors when they are using a paper-based system, but the computer system will correct them.
“The Herdwatch app is also very handy in getting organised. If you’re out in the yard, you can pop in an ID tag on your phone. It is also ideal for inputting medicines.
Teagasc Excel cost control planner
“Another tool I encourage farmers to use is the Teagasc Excel cost control planner.
There can be a lot of uncertainty around finances on a farm and this planner is a very simple tool that can allow farmer families to sit down and look at what bills are owed and see clearly where the holes are,” Grainne said.
With more labour now being employed on farms, additional compliance is required, she commented.
The whole area of employee rights and regulations is a minefield and many farmers don’t realise what’s involved.
“This is an area where people can make greater use of the professionalism of their accountant who will be in a position to give the correct advice and make sure payslips and holiday entitlements are in order,” said Grainne.
Farmers who are encountering difficulties with their record keeping should contact their Teagasc advisor, who will be able to conduct a lot of work on their behalf, she advised.
Attending discussion groups can be a great way of picking up tips, according to Grainne.
“One farmer mentioned how he used a whiteboard in the milking parlour and he takes a photo of the information on that and sends it to his wife who keeps the records.”