Some 85% of respondents to a poll on Agriland believe that contractors do not pay their workers enough money.
The poll attracted over 1,800 respondents following a story on Agriland regarding the struggle contractors are having finding workers.
There was a big reaction on social media to the story, which cited that emigration, J1s and a lack of interest were the problems facing the sector.
Agriland also ran a second poll and asked farmers would they work for a contractor. Some 57% of the respondents said that they would work for a contractor, with the other 43% saying that they wouldn't work for one.
According to Richie White, Chairman of the Association of Farm Contractors (FCI), the lack of workers is a major problem, that the workers just don’t exist and that it’s a mix of everything that’s the problem.
“They come out of college and go on J1s or to Australia or Canada especially those who would be involved in this type of work.”
Speaking about someone he knew going to college, he said that of the c.250 in his year doing agriculture, only about 20 were going home to the farm to work.
He said that a lot of these graduates are going to the ‘Glanbias’ and the ‘Dairygolds’ of this world – more towards the ‘corporate side’ of agriculture.
“There’s a major skill shortage in contracting. Since the downturn the twenty-somethings have been emigrating. People in this line of work went to Australia with their friends who were electricians and plumbers.
[This lack of workers] is the biggest downfall in the agri-scene. There’s some 6,000 people doing some sort of agricultural course and when they finish there’s no sign of them on the ground.
White said that the average gross pay for contractors around the country would be in the region of €13/14 an hour.
“To be fair, they wouldn’t do it otherwise. There’s no interest in it that’s what I see; the hours are unsociable and it’s about three weeks of intense going.”
White said that the people running a proper operation are getting tarnished by those contractors paying less than what they should be.
“The perception of contractors needs to change – the black economy is causing problems.”