Larger and more powerful tractors are being bought by agri contractors as they attempt to fill on-farm labour shortages, according to an annual report published on Monday by Genfitt, the largest independent distributor of machinery parts, and KPMG.

It shows that on-farm labour shortages are a key issue for farmers, with many relying on more automation and agri contractors to fill the gaps.

The increase in working hours on-farm means that farming has become an undesirable career choice for many young people. The report outlines that farmers can now expect to work between 80 and 90 hours a week.

The report also shows trends in buying patterns among farmers. Many are starting to buy secondhand parts online as they perceive that it will be better value for money.

Brexit and beef

The report stated that, in general, “there’s been little improvement in the Irish agricultural sector”.

“The main issues of concern include Brexit, input costs and availability of finance. This is in direct contrast to 2018, during which Brexit wasn’t affecting trade and the most negatively impacting factor was the weather.

“Beef farmers are also feeling the pinch. A drop in demand for beef, due to changing dietary trends, trade issues caused by the prospect of Brexit, and the need to cut down on emissions, due to climate change, have meant that the price of beef has weakened in the past year.

“On a positive note, 70% of dairy and tillage farmers enjoyed a good year. Milk prices were sustained in 2019 and, despite a recent slight drop, global demand for milk is increasing and the prices are expected to rise in 2020.”

Minister Michael Creed said that the report provided a valuable insight into many of the key issues affecting the sector.

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