More milk­ers needed to cope with ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary’ de­mand

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

SUCH was the de­mand for milk­ers in Water­ford on the week­end of the All-Ire­land hurl­ing fi­nal, even Farm Re­lief Ser­vices (FRS) couldn’t sup­ply enough per­son­nel to cover the enor­mous need.

“It was ex­tra­or­di­nary, but not un­ex­pected,” ex­plains Ned Dun­phy, the man­ager of FRS in the county.

“Some of our staff were dou­ble-milk­ing as the de­mand was so high. We were get­ting call af­ter call from farm­ers who were in­tend­ing to head for Croke Park.”

On av­er­age they found due to herd size and time in Water­ford it was cost­ing the farmer ap­prox­i­mately €80 for two milk­ing ses­sions.

To meet de­mand on busy GAA week- ends, and at other hec­tic times dur­ing the year, the FRS has been try­ing to re­cruit in the South East and in June ini­ti­ated a pi­lot scheme where they trained in­ter­ested ap­pli­cants to be­come milk­ing op­er­a­tors.

“We reached out to the likes of beef farm­ers, women from farm­ing back­grounds, those who just need to earn a bit more at cer­tain times of the year and were able to re­cruit a few new milk­ers,” said Dun­phy.

And in the com­ing weeks an ad­di­tional course which aims to train job­seek­ers and peo­ple in re­ceipt of Farm As­sist pay­ments to be­come dairy op­er­a­tives is to be­gin.

An anal­y­sis of labour mar­ket needs for the lo­cal dairy sec­tor was car­ried out by the South East Re­gional Skills Fo­rum, and now the Depart­ment for So­cial Pro­tec­tion is work­ing with Tea­gasc, the Irish Farm­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (IFA), and FRS to high­light po­ten­tial em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within the sec­tor to job­seek­ers lo­cated in Water­ford and Kilkenny.

“At­tract­ing the right peo­ple is so very im­por­tant,” ex­plains Ned Dun­phy. “Not only do these peo­ple need to be well­trained so they can do the job to a high stan­dard but also, of course, they need to be trust­wor­thy and de­pend­able.

“Our hope is the new schemes will help boost num­bers so that if Water­ford reach an­other fi­nal soon we’ ll have all the cover we need here and be­yond.”

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