IFA welcomes dairy permits and calls for ‘same approach for pig and poultry’

The announcement of an additional 100 dairy labour permits for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Lauding the announcement, IFA president, Joe Healy, said: “The IFA made a detailed business case for this, and the minister has responded positively following the initial run of 50 permits.”

He said the same approach is now needed for the pig and poultry sectors, which are experiencing the same recruitment difficulties as dairy farmers, in the context of full employment in Ireland and tighter labour markets all over Europe.

“It is important that some of the details of the scheme be reviewed to make it more flexible and a better fit for farmers, who in many cases are first-time employers, without access to HR departments or consultants,” Healy said.

First of all, those who have applied in recent months must retain their place in the queue and not have to reapply for this new batch of permits.

“There are many prospective farmer employers at different points of their expansion plans, who will now be keen to recruit well ahead of the busy spring 2020 period to ensure they can train and settle their new employees into the business.

“This must be facilitated by prompt processing and greater feedback during the application process, with dedicated teams and contact points for farmer applicants within the department,” he said.

Finally, it is crucial that the minister recognise the labour and skills shortages also affecting the Irish pig and poultry farming sectors.

“They too need to be able to access workers from outside the EU/EEA,” he concluded.