Agricultural consultants play a vital role in the industry as every farmer that uses one will agree. Farming has evolved over the years and with so many legislations and regulations being put in place by the department of agriculture amongst others, it can be sometimes overwhelming for people to grasp all the paperwork.
This is where the agricultural consultants come to the fore and provide a service that ensures customer satisfaction all the time.
For this month’s edition of Irish Tractor, we profile Roscommon based agricultural consultants P Durkan & Associates Ltd and speak to associate Patricia McCormack about the services they provide and what their role entails.
Hailing from a dairy farming background, it was no surprise that Patricia ended up working in the agricultural sector. Having graduated from UCD in 2002 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree specialising in Animal Science, she joined the team in 2006 and has been there since.
She is a Department of Agriculture Approved Basic Payment Scheme Agent, Farm Advisory Service (FAS) approved Advisor, GLAS Advisor, Knowledge Transfer Facilitator for Beef & Sheep. Having completed an Accounting Technician Course in 2013, as well as earning a Diploma in Taxation with Chartered Accountants Ireland in 2017, Patricia now heads up the Farm Accounts Section of the firm as well as looking after the Basic Payment and Entitlement Transfer & general Advisory Service. She is an Associate Member of ACA and also a member of Accounting Technicians Ireland.
“I would come from a farming background alright, so it is a second nature for me to be still involved in some capacity,” said Patricia whose husband Thomas McCormack is a leading agricultural contractor in Roscommon as well as breeding pedigree sheep, which daughter Rachel (14) and son Alan (11) have shown a great interest in.
So, it is very much a case of farming being in the blood for Patricia and her family and this could be in part one of the reasons why last March she was appointed Secretary of the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA), a role that she is only now getting to grips with due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I was appointed in the position last March and it is a great honour for me to hold that role. I had only been appointed when the pandemic hit, and that put everything on hold, but for the past few months I’ve got down to business and I’m enjoying it so far.”
Between work, home life and the ACA, Patricia admits that free time is scarce at the moment, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It is a busy schedule alright, most of the meetings are online, so that cuts down on the travelling, but I suppose I am quite used to being busy, so I just get on with it,” she joked.
On a more serious note, Patricia stressed that there are a number of issues that need addressing in the farming community with Brexit being right up there.
“There is a lot of uncertainty there at the moment. Ireland exports a lot of beef to the U.K and we are unsure how Brexit will affect that. It is a worrying time for a lot of farmers as no one really knows what is down the line.
“Farming in general is in a good place and there are a lot of positives including the young farmer scheme, which is a payment made to farmers under the age of 40 who are educated in agriculture to help them succeed in farming. It can be paid for up to five years.”
There are a new generation of farmers out there now, the majority of who have been well educated and are keen to maximise the potential of their farm.
“The outlook towards farming has totally changed in the last few years. There is a new breed of farmer that is willing to try the untested to help improve their farms.”
P Durkan & Associates offer assistance in New Herd Number Applications, BPS / ANC Applications online to Dept of Agr, Transfer of Entitlements Applications, GLAS Applications & Recording Service, Farm Accounts & Financial Planning, Land Leasing Agreements
Expert Witness/CPO Negotiations, Knowledge Transfer Facilitation, Silage Sampling, Soil Sampling & Fertiliser Recommendations, TAMS Grants & Planning Permission Applications, Completion of Farm Health & Safety Statements.
Patricia admits that you have to earn the trust of a farmer before helping them make decisions that could affect their livelihoods. “Definitely, you have to work hard to earn their trust but when you do, they will respect what we say and take everything on board.”
Padraic Durkan set up P. Durkan & Associates Agri Consultants in August 2001. He expanded the firm in 2006 and moved to the current premises at Main Street, Elphin.
Since then he has expanded the range of agri services from basic REPS Planning, to catering for all the needs of a modern day farmer including a quality Advisory Service, a Basic Payment/Agri Environmental Agency, a Farm Accounts & Financial Planning Section, Land Leasing/Expert Witness & CPO Negotiation Section, Planning Permission & Grant Applications leading to a “One Stop Shop” for all his valued clients.
“It is a great company to work for and Padraig would place a great emphasis on training to ensure that we are up to date with any changes being made by the department and this helps us to make sure our clients get the best service possible.”
P Durkan & Associates Ltd
Phone: 071 9630037
Mobile: 086 1600385
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 1, January/February 2021