To be successful in any walk of life whether it be business, sport academical, we all need the right advice at times to make the correct decision.
This is the same in the agricultural sector as farmers need outside help to ensure they get the best from their farms and stock. To this end they turn to agricultural consultants.
And for this month’s edition of Irish Tractor, we profile Laois based company EAEC Ltd and speak to managing director Andy Dunne about the services that they provide their clients.
Having being raised on a farm, Andy has farming running through his veins, but his route to becoming an agricultural consultant was not as straight forward as one might think.
“I actually became a secondary school teacher and was teaching for a few years before I went back to college and got a degree in agricultural science,” said Andy.
“From there, I started off on my own, working in a room from the house and that was in 1995 and we have been going ever since. The customer base has grown over the years and from our headquarters in Portlaoise, we would have clients in all the surrounding counties.”
EAEC Ltd’s services include Cross Compliance, Farm Management Advice, Professional Witness Reporting and the many schemes live at the moment including Glas which is the agri-environment scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020. All farmers may apply. Priority will be given to farmers with priority environmental assets and to farmers who undertake specific priority actions.
“We provide a range of services to our clients and help them out where we can. We specialise in a number of areas including court work, which you may be surprised to find that there is a good bit of this to be done.”
Andy admitted that the services they provide allows farmers to concentrate on what they are at best doing and that is farming.
“No farmer wants to be bogged down with paperwork and they just want to farm. That is why they use agricultural consultants and we are here to take that burden away from them and help them in any way that we can.”
Of course, and rightly so, farmers will not just take advice from anyone and Andy admitted that you have to earn their trust over a period of time.
“Trust is key and it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to earn the client’s trust and to do that we have to make the right decision for them every time. This is their livelihoods that is at stake, so you can understand why people would be cautious when taking advice from someone they barely know.
“I’m fortunate enough to be long enough in business not only to have a big customer base, all of who have placed their trust in us, but many of them would be good friends at this stage. I remember when I first started, none of my neighbours would come near me business wise, but over time that changed when they realised I was more than capable of doing the job.”
There are four people employed at EAEC Ltd and Andy stressed that he is delighted to have such an experienced and approachable team in the office.
“I’m very lucky to have good staff here, all of who are very experienced at what they do. The clients like them and that is essential. As a team, we work well together and if there are any issues, we can generally sort them out between us.”
Farming in general is in a mixed place according to Andy with some sectors going a lot better than others, while he feels there are other issues on the horizon that need to be deal with.
“Dairy and forestry are two areas that are doing very well at the moment. The abolishment of the milk quota has been a huge boost to dairy farmers, while anyone that planted trees is certainly reaping the benefits now. Beef has improved slightly, but is in an uncertain place at the moment and that is mainly down to Brexit. No one really knows the outcome of that and there is certainly a lot of concern in the market. The future of CAP is also uncertain, while there is a new EU Green Deal coming into place and that should help benefit farmers.”
Farming in Ireland has evolved over the years and Andy has seen a lot of change in attitude to the way farmers now think.
“You are dealing with a different generation now, people that are college educated and a lot of went off to other countries to learn farming techniques and they are bringing those ideas back and trying to implement them in their practice.
“I would have clients that would be second generation at this stage. Ireland is one of the best farming countries in the world and we have made great strides in latter years and the aim now is to keep evolving. There are new schemes coming in and the backing is there for farmers to grow in whatever direction they want and we are here to support them in any way that we can.”
James Fintan Lawlor Avenue
7 Kellyville Park
Tel: 057 8620157
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 1, January/February 2021