By FRS Network CEO, Peter Byrne
It’s now forty years since the national structure to coordinate Farm Relief Services in Ireland was established. Our aim was to further develop and diversify existing services and ensure that farm relief services were available across the country. Set up as a coop, we have ensured that the nationwide ethos of service to the farming community has remained.
As we celebrate four decades in business at our national office in Roscrea, we acknowledge the progress and reflect on the changes that has been made in the agricultural industry. FRS Chairman, Francis Fitzgerald and FRS Vice Chairman, Tim Maher, and staff of Derryvale were present to mark the milestone.
Due to Covid 19, we were not able to celebrate this occasion with all our FRS staff, however I would like to acknowledge the work that they do in our offices across the country. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their continued support.
For FRS, it has always been about service to the farming community. The organisation is run on a sound business model with all profits reinvested to further develop services to our customers and members. That same ethos has spread to other services we offer. FRS Network is the umbrella company for FRS Farm Relief, FRS Fencing, FRS Recruitment, FRS Training, Herdwatch and Turas Nua which all work within the co-operative ethos.
These diversified businesses were cleverly chosen and developed by FRS to service the local communities and businesses evolving needs over the years. We have the only cooperative recruitment agency in the country with all profits reinvested in the business and the same applies to our training Coop.
FRS is now a major service provider with over two thousand people employed, including administration and management staff as well as front-line full and part-time service providers and operators. The co-operatives values of trust and integrity, customer care, quality and innovation and collaboration binds all the businesses together to achieve their collective vision to sustain, develop and grow the communities they serve every day.
While FRS continues to develop new initiatives, the original purpose remains the same. Our core business will always be the provision of relief staff for our farmer members and the demand has been driven by our customers. One might imagine that with fewer farmers than forty years ago, the demand for FRS would have diminished over the years. There is a logic to the fact that our farm-directed services are more in demand than ever. Increased scale means that Farmers need to employ staff, either on a part-time or full-time basis. A back-up service is critical for farmers. We can see what is needed and are able to react to that. The introduction of hoof-care into Ireland reflected a need and demand for that service. We subsequently introduced pregnancy scanning, firstly in sheep and then in bovines. Those services follow demand as well as opportunity. That reflects our values and ethos, the service of our members as needs are identified and fulfilled.
The last 40 years have passed by very quickly within the ever-evolving FRS Network, my sincere thanks to everyone who has shared that journey with us.