Attitudes of Young Farmers to Agri Co-operatives – FRS Research Launched

Research Found Strong Appreciation from Young Farmers of the Importance of Agricultural Co-operatives in the ‘Future of Irish Farming’

On behalf of FRS Network Minister Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, launched the ‘Attitudes of Young Farmers to Agricultural Co-operatives’ research at FRS Networks’ Headoffice in Roscrea, Co.Tipperary on Wednesday 31st of July 2019. Survey showed that 94% of survey respondents considered that agricultural co-operatives were important for the ‘future of Irish farming.’

Attended by representatives from the co-operatives, agricultural organisations, boards and media the event offered each person a chance to hear first-hand the findings of the research conducted and presented by Dr Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research and Consultancy on behalf of FRS, which was supported by the Golden Jubilee Trust. The survey was completed by 655 young farmers through online and paper-based questionnaires.

Comments and reactions by guest speakers, Minister Doyle, Richard Kennedy, IFA, Thomas Duffy, Macra and Ray Dempsey, Central Auctions led to an open discussion on the topics surrounding the future role of co-operatives in Ireland.

Minister Doyle commented; “The report’s recommendations can pave the way in ensuring co-op’s continue to be successful long into the future. The research findings should be considered by co-operatives and reviewed in the context of their own situation.  Farmers need to be informed, advised and convinced about the importance of holding shares and getting actively involved in co-operatives.”

Thomas Duffy, President of Macra Na Feirme told of his experience during this speech and said “In my experience boards have been welcoming, but boards need to know that young people will challenge, if they see the need to, and they need to be ready to embrace this and be open to change.” 

Ray Dempsey, Chairman of Central Auctions spoke about his long-standing experience with the co-op structure and said “The research now puts down on paper what we have been speaking about throughout our boards and committees. The co-operative ethos is as strong today as it ever was, but now is the time to ensure the future of it. If we leave it too long more and don’t make changes now we may see a very different picture. As Co-ops we need to be vibrant and appealing to young farmers to attract them in. The research showed that they see co-ops as important with the most important attribute being that they are owned by farmers.”

Richard Kennedy, Deputy President of IFA commented; “This very valuable report must not be left on a shelf gathering dust. Give youth responsibility and they will respond. Great credit to FRS for initiating the report.”

Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research and Consultancy commented;  “The research highlights that while young farmers appreciate the importance of co-operatives to the agri industry there is a level of complacency about becoming shareholders in the co-operatives with which they trade. There also appears to be a hesitancy with regard to getting involved in committees and boards. There is an opportunity for agricultural co-operatives to encourage greater engagement by younger farmers.”

The executive summary of the research brought to light the following:

Co-operatives continue to play an important role in Irish agriculture, however the level of involvement in co-operatives among young farmers is variable. Many young farmers trade/engage with co-operatives but are not shareholders and are not actively involved in the running of them (not serving on boards or committees). There appears to be a slow rate of transfer of shares in agricultural co-operatives to young farmers and more shares are being transferred to/inherited by non-farmers. National Co-op Farm Relief Service (NCFRS / FRS Network) is concerned about the:

  • Transfer of shares to younger farmers and non-farmers;
  • Low level of involvement of young farmers in co-operatives;
  • Proportion of young farmers who are shareholders in co-operatives; and
  • Pool of people available in the future to serve on co-operative committees and boards.

The most important findings to emerge from the research included:

  • 94% of survey respondents considered that agricultural co-operatives were important for the ‘future of Irish farming’ and 87% considered that agricultural co-operatives were important for their ‘own future in farming’;
  • 55% saw a benefit/possible benefit to be a shareholder in a co-operative with which they traded/engaged with;
  • Shares in agricultural co-operatives were transferred to the respondent or other family members in one quarter of farm families;
  • Transfer of shares in agricultural co-operatives had been discussed within the farm family of one in five respondents;
  • The main ways suggested for encouraging share transfer included: discounted shares; incentives to encourage transfer; education; and information;
  • Two-thirds indicated that they were interested in purchasing agricultural co-operative shares within the next 5 years;
  • 55% of respondents knew a board member of a Dairy Co-operative;
  • 44% were definitely/possibly interested in future membership of a Dairy Co-operative Board and 33% were definitely/possibly interested in future membership of a Co-operative Livestock Mart Board;
  • One quarter believed that agricultural co-operative boards were ‘open and welcoming’;
  • Two-thirds of respondents were interested/possibly interested in training on the role of co-operative boards; and
  • The most important attribute of co-operatives identified by respondents was that they were ‘farmer owned/controlled’. 

The conclusions from the research can be summarised as follows:

Young farmers:

  • Appreciate the importance of agricultural co-operatives;
  • Are engaging with agricultural co-operatives on a regular basis;
  • Have a low level of share ownership and have had limited shares transferred to them by parents/family members;
  • Had limited discussion about the transfer of shares with parents/family members;
  • But are interested in purchasing co-operative shares in the future;
  • Appreciate the attributes of co-operatives but are not convinced about the benefits of being a shareholder of co-operatives which they trade/engage with;
  • Believe that financial insecurity and fear contribute to the delay in share transfer;
  • But are not unduly concerned about the slow/delayed transfer of shares or the transfer of shares to non-farmers;
  • Believe that incentives and information are critical to encourage share transfer;
  • Are potentially interested in becoming involved in co-operative boards but will need to be encouraged;
  • As there is a level of scepticism about the extent to which co-operative boards are open and welcoming.

The recommendations from the research can be summarised as follows:

  • The research findings should be considered by co-operatives and reviewed in the context of their own situation;
  • Farmers need to be informed, advised and convinced about the importance of holding shares and getting actively involved in co-operatives;
  • Farmers engaging with agricultural co-operatives need to be encouraged to become shareholders and be actively involved;
  • Share transfer and purchase need to be actively facilitated and encouraged;
  • The potential interest in future involvement in boards and committees needs to be nurtured;
  • Boards need to ensure that they are ‘open and welcoming’ to new members; and
  • Innovative approaches to demonstrate the role, function and importance of co-operatives should be developed.

Peter Byrne, CEO, FRS Network, welcomed all to the launch of the Research and commented;

“I want to thank the Golden Jubilee Trust for their financial support of this very important research project and to Pat Bogue of Broadmore Research and Consulting who’s knowledge of the Agricultural sector, together with his research expertise, has resulted in a very comprehensive report with excellent interpretation and recommendations.

Having worked with several FRS board members both at National and local level, I truly appreciate the enormous time and commitment they have given in a voluntary capacity to the FRS organisation over the last 40 years.  I take a great sense of comfort from this research project that such commitment will be forth coming from our present day young farmers, but we need to take positive steps to encourage and support them to become actively involved in their local co-operatives both as shareholders and board members.”

Francis Fitzgerald, NCFRS Chairman commented;

“Agricultural Co-operatives have made an enormous contribution to Irish farming over the years.  Thousands of farmers have given outstanding and dedicated service to their co-operatives as board and committee members.  The leadership and vision of these very board members has resulted in the growth and development of Agricultural Co-operatives. 

It is imperative that young farmers become involved in the Co-op movement both as shareholders and as board and committee members.  The board of NCFRS are concerned that not enough is being done to encourage such involvement and hence our decision to undertake this study.  We are very pleased to read that overall young farmers have a positive attitude to Co-operatives, but they have confirmed our view that they need to be actively encouraged to become more involved.  Every Co-op has a role to play in promoting the Co-op Model, in actively encouraging share transfer to younger active farmers and nurturing the interest of young farmers in board participation.”

Dr. Sean Brady, Trust Chairman, Golden Jubilee Trust commented;

 “Golden Jubilee Trust is delighted to support this excellent initiative of FRS.  The long-term future of the Co-operative Movement in Ireland is in the hands of the young Farmers of today.  New ideas and talents are essential to continue to develop the co-operative movement so that it remains core to the needs of the Farming Families of the future.

This work will inform the co-operatives on how to engage with young farmers so as to build on the past to create an excellent future for farmers in Ireland.”

Contact: for a full copy of the report.

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Membership Benefit Scheme, Uncategorized

News: FRS Dairy Operative Skills Programme launch and Ear to the Ground

FRS in conjunction with Teagasc have launched a new Dairy Operative Skills Programme and it featured on RTE Ones’, Ear to the Ground.

FRS milking operators, Jennifer Matthews and Josh Phelan, both successfully completed the programme and were featured along with farmer James O’Brien from Kilkenny on Ear to the Ground.

Watch clip here:

Interested candidates are invited to apply for seasonal work as milkers and farm workers with FRS Farm Relief Services and those who require upskilling will have the unique opportunity to complete a 20 day programme involving 4 training days in a Teagasc College and 16 days practical work experience on host farms organised by FRS.

On successful completion of their training, candidates will be offered work through FRS during the peak months of January/February to May/June 2018. The work could potentially earn an individual up to €8,000 or more and participants will be paid during their training.

The three potential candidate groups that have been identified to take part in the programme and to take up seasonal work to help alleviate labour shortages and are, but not limited to:

• Dry Stock Farmers – on individual farms where there may be capacity to take on a additional part time role.
• Women in Agriculture – who may be interested in work involving milking, calf rearing and livestock husbandry.
• Farmers on Farm Assist and Jobseekers – who are in receipt of a DSP payment and who may be interested in farm work. (FRS advise individuals of the need to discuss their individual position with Dept. Social Protection (DSP), as taking up employment may have implications for their DSP allowances).

Peter Byrne, CEO, FRS Network said “FRS believe that this project is one of a number of possible options including sourcing labour from abroad that must be examined to source and train potential FRS operators’’.

Applicants for the ‘Dairy Operative Skills Programme’ and work with FRS are invited to talk through with their local FRS Office or visit for more details and to apply online.

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Media Centre, Membership Benefit Scheme

Herdwatch and FRS Farm Relief Services attend the ICMSA AGM

ICMSA AGM Castletroy Park Hotel Limerick Picture Credit Brian Gavin Press 22

Herdwatch and FRS Farm Relief Services attend the ICMSA AGM on Monday 28 November in the Castletroy Park Hotel, Limerick. Pictured left to right are: Padraig Madden, FRS Network, John Comer, ICMSA President, Minister Michael Creed, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Minister John Bruton, former Taoiseach and James Greevy, Herdwatch.

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Membership Benefit Scheme

FRS on Countrywide Sat 16th Jan

Tune in to Countrywide Radio One tomorrow morning (Sat 16) from 8:10am to get the farmer and farm relief worker perspectives on getting work done on the farm. Plus in studio discussion with Peter Byrne, FRS and Darragh McCullough, RTE Presenter, on sourcing farm workers to meet the growing demand.

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Membership Benefit Scheme

News: Significant Decrease in Farming Fatalities for 2015 shows signs of hope for the future

Recent figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that fatalities in agriculture were down 40% on 2014. 18 deaths were reported in 2015 in comparison to 30 in 2014.
For the sixth year in a row, figures show that agriculture holds the record for the highest number of fatalities above all other sectors. In 2015, 55 people were killed in work related accidents, which the HSA stated is exactly the same number as 2014.
Across all sectors, incidents involving vehicles were the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace, 21 in total, according to the HSA. A tractor or machinery were involved in six farm fatalities and four were involving livestock.
Construction fatalities increased from eight in 2014 to 11 in 2015 along with this the fishing sector saw an increase from one in 2015 to five in 2015.

Two-thirds of work related deaths, occurred in businesses with fewer than 10 employees, mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing. In 2015, there were four child fatalities, all of which were agriculture related.

FRS are advocates of Farm Safety
FRS are firm believers in promoting Farm safety and throughout 2015 worked hard to deliver live farm safety demonstrations to the public. FRS teamed up with FBD and the HSA to showcase practical farm safety demonstrations at the various agricultural shows throughout Ireland.
These included safe handling of bulls and livestock, Tractor PTO demonstrations, as well as giving general farm safety advice.The demonstrations proved to entice the crowds and this year will expectantly prove no different.
What would you do if you had a farm accident and could not run your farm tomorrow?
The FRS Membership Benefit Scheme has helped many farmers out at their most vulnerable time – when they were unable to work their farms. FRS offers a unique benefit as it arranges a relief worker straight to the farm to cover the work in the event of any accidents or sickness that is supported by a doctor’s cert.
The Sickness and Accident Support entitles members to the services of an experienced FRS operator for up to *12 weeks at only 25% of the regular cost (75% off). Maximum benefit is €500 (incl. Vat) per week (*first week is excluded and must be paid by the member).The feedback from farmers who have claimed under the sickness and accident support reinforced to us the importance of offering this benefit to the industry.
The savings that these farmers made on their labour needs was just one side of it. The more significant side being that they could concentrate on recovering knowing that their farms were being looked after. Having a good trained reliable operator ready to step in, when required, is what the farmer needs and that is what FRS is all about.
The membership also gives better value farm services rates with top priority given to members and a death and capital benefit of up to €20,000.
Membership costs €295 annually – that is Peace of Mind for only 81 cent per day. Sign up in January and get 14 months for the price of 12.
For more information visit or call FRS Roscrea on 0505 21166 or FRS Cahir on 052 7441598. Text FRS MBS plus your name and address to 51444 for a call back.

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Posted in Farm, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Membership Benefit Scheme

News: We’re HIRING Farm Workers

We have launched a recruitment drive to attract part time and full time dairy and general farm labour workers. Visit

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch

News: Agricultural Advisors Required

We are currently recruiting for Agricultural Advisors to provide GLAS planning and related services. Visit

Posted in Farm, Farm Labour Demand, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Media Centre, Membership Benefit Scheme

News: More farmers set to upskill their milking practice

Father and son at best practice in milking course


FRS (Farm Relief Services) launched the “Best Practice in Milking” course in conjunction with Teagasc and AHI (Animal Health Ireland) in July of last year.  The course itself proved to be a complete success.  Almost four hundred farmers have upskilled their milking practices through the course and are currently in the process of receiving their highly commendable FETAC/QQI level 6 certifications.

Participants had positive feedback to give about the course.  From beginners to the utmost experienced, each participant had something great to say about the course and the way in which it was taught.  Some even admitted that milking all your life does not necessarily mean you know everything about it, “I have been milking all my life, didn’t think there was anything I didn’t know!  But I was wrong AGAIN”. 

Minister Coveney launching Milking course at MSJ with FRS Teagasc and AHI LOW RES

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD, officially launched the milking course last year on behalf of FRS, Teagasc and AHI.

At the launch Minister Coveney said; “By improving standards and improving current farming practices through this milking course will help take the industry to the next level and to where we need to be in order to provide the best practice efficiently and compete on wider international stage.  The department is backing this course through its funding and encourages farmers to upskill their current practices and new entrants to put the best foot forward and complete the course”.

The course is suited to all level of expertise.  Some of the previous participants felt that the course should be compulsory for those new to dairy.  “Excellent course. Should be made compulsory for new entrants”.

Every area of the milking routine is covered throughout the duration of the course including; Preparation for milking, Machine parts/components, Milk quality (SCC&TBC), Mastitis prevention, Washing routines, Animal diseases, Health and safety and many other essential aspects to ensure an efficient dairy system is in place.

Undoubtedly, the course itself is extremely unique as it brings together the theory parts of milking and also the practical implementation of the theory.   A customised DVD aids the delivery of the course and acts as a reference guide in the future.  All course tutors and directors have been specifically trained and course content approved by the experts in the area of milking.

Past participants were enthusiastic and highly recommended farmers to do the course, “I would recommend to all farmers because you would learn so much and “All farmers should do it, excellent course”.


Best Practice John in GurteenPlans are currently under-way for the next tranche of milking courses, which are due to commence this coming July 2015 and will be running throughout the country.  The course is open to all levels of milking experience from new entrants and people interested in relief milking to experienced dairy farmers.

Currently the cost of the course is €250, reduced from €500 due to a €250 department subsidy.  With the success of last year’s course FRS, Teagasc and AHI hopes that this year will be as successful.

Peter Byrne, CEO FRS Network says; “FRS have been providing milking training to FRS relief milkers and farmers for 35 years, but we wanted to standardise the course to improve the consistency of its delivery and also give certification of achievement to participants that recognises the hard work they have put in and the learning value that they have received.  We are delighted with the response so far and will continue to progress with the confidence that the milking course is delivering what it set it do.”

For more information on the course or if you wish to book a spot for July:

Visit, alternatively call 1890 20 10 00 or Kevin Fitzpatrick at 086 0280450.  Drop us an email at

For updates visit and like our Facebook page

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Posted in Farm, FRS Archives, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training

News: Herdwatch goes National on Radio

Tune in to Countrywide RTE Radio One with Damien O’Reilly tomrorrow (Sat 16th) @ 8.25 am to hear how Herdwatch is changing the way things are done down on the farm. oreilly presenter of rte radio one countrywide on farm with herdwatch

Posted in Farm Labour Demand, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Membership Benefit Scheme

News: Our Herdwatch App will be on TV tonight

Tune in to this week‘s Tipperary County Matters’ on Saturday 18/04/2015 at 8.30pm on

Sky channel 191
Freesat 400
Eircom eVision 191 and other free to air boxes.
A repeat will also be available on Sky channel 191 on the following Tuesday at 1.30pm and also Thursday at 11pm.

Comming up on the Show:
We meet the people behind the scenes as Herdwatch has been named as the first ever winner of AIB’s Start Up Academy with a prize package of €250, 000. Herdwatch farming app & software package gives dairy & beef cattle farmers’ easy compliance & valuable farm records, anytime, anywhere.

Tony O’Connor an international award winning equine artist presents his April Foals exhibition at the South Tipperary Arts Centre, Clonmel. Tony’s work highlights the power, beauty and elegance of the horse anatomy.

Fracture Youth Theatre group are taking you outside the theatre to experience their intimate show ‘Back Seat’,from the back seat of a car. This is a unique theatrical treat that is bound to please its limited audience at The Source Arts Centre Carpark.

Posted in Farm Labour Demand, FRS Farm Services, FRS Fencing Systems, FRS Network News, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch, Media Centre, Membership Benefit Scheme
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