Rules that govern milk production partnerships will be extended to all other farming partnerships early in the New Year.

This is according to Ben Roche, farm structural specialist at Teagasc.

Speaking to AgriLand ahead of this week’s Teagasc Farm Business Conference in Tullamore, Roche has noted a big upsurge in partnerships, share farming and other collaborative farming arrangements in the past number of years.

“We would encourage farmers to look at share farming, partnerships and other collaborative farming arrangement for skills benefits, preparing for expansion, and lifestyle and labour issues. Take a dairy farmer it is 24/7 job and if many co-operate together they could rationalise their work, one milking parlour instead of two, one herd instead of two and so on.”

There are now 665 milk production partnerships on the Teagasc register.

He also noted that farm partnerships can provide a steeping stone to succession in the family farm. “This facilitates the gradual movement of the family farm from one generation to the next by allowing the successor to have real responsibility for and involvement in, the day to day running of the farm business at a younger age.”

In terms of share farming in Ireland, the Teagasc specialist acknowledged that it only exists in a tillage context but Teagasc is currently drafting an agreement to accommodate the extension of share farming to dairy.

In addition, Roche noted that contract rearing is already operating successfully in many parts of Ireland and has further potential as dairy farmers look to manage labour requirements in the future.

There are three principles farmers must take note of when entering such contracts, he cautioned. “Know the person well from a business point of view and build up trust. Don’t take anything for granted. Set out in writing the business basis, seek clarity and make it easier for both parties. Fundamentally outline what each person is going to bring to the table, how it will operate, what the arrangements are and if there are disagreements how will it work. Arrange it like a business.”

In terms of the upcoming Teagasc Farm Business Conference this Wednesday, Roche noted that advice from professionals such as solicitors and accountants is key. “There has been great interest out there, in contract rearing in particular from dairy farmers and we expect there to be huge growth in this area.”

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