Since its establishment in 1985, the Rea Group has grown into leading agricultural consultants which specialise in agricultural consultancy. Irish Tractor & Agri touched base with its founder and Managing Director Richard Rea to learn more about the Co Tipperary-based business.
When Richard Rea set-up his agricultural consultancy business over 35 years ago, he did so with the objective of providing effective and professional services to clients.
Today, the Rea Group continues that proud tradition of providing agri consultancy services to farmers, solicitors and insurance companies from its offices in Tipperary , Ballina in Co. Mayo and Castlebaldwin in Co. Sligo.
“We also have an alliance with Mark McConnell, Agricultural Consultant, Reps Planner and Auctioneers, The Glebe, Stranorlar, Lifford, Co. Donegal,” explained Richard.
Since ‘Day One’, the company has been providing strategic advice to small and medium businesses and farming enterprises all across the country.
“Our main office is in Tipperary and we have an office in Castlebaldwin, Co Sligo as well as
in Ballina Co Mayo,” he outlined.
Martin & Rea (Tipp) Ltd., Rea & Associates Ltd., Rea Clarke & Associates Ltd, Dawson Rea Ltd.,
Rea Agri-Environmental Consultants t/a as Clarke Rea Western and AMC Agri Consultants Ltd., are the group of companies that make up the Rea Group and together they employ a broad spectrum of experience, offering a wide range of technical expertise.
In addition, the Rea Group engages other experts regularly, as appropriate.
The company delivers Agricultural consultancy services to Farmers, Solicitors and Insurance Companies, including Land & Property and Business Transfer – Retirement; Family Disputes & Settlements; Agricultural Expert Witness Reports; Compulsory Purchase Orders; Mediation, Arbitration.
Taxation services are also provided especially in relation to Capital Gains Tax, Gift and Inheritance Taxation in relation to planning transfer of farm and other businesses to the next generation.
“Rea Group have been successful in bridging the generations and many of our younger clients, I would have dealt with their grandfathers and fathers.
“During the lockdown months, our people were all working from home and it did leave less contact with the clients personally, but hopefully the worst is behind us now.”
Every member of the company’s staff is highly qualified. Richard himself holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree, a Higher Diploma in Environmental Management and is also a fully-Accredited Mediator.
Tom Dawson, who has been part of the team in Tipperary for 24 years now, has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree, Diploma in Taxation, Advanced Diploma in Financial Management and a Higher Certificate in Real Estate (Valuation, Sale & Management), while Anne-Marie Clarke, who joined the REA Group in 1993 and is based in Ballina, is a Master of Agricultural Science. Joe Henry has a degree in Agriculture. He has worked in New Zealand and he has expertise in sheep, beef suckling & TAMS.
Helen Guerin is a TMITI with Irish Tax Institute, she has a Higher Diploma in Tax Planning from Dublin Business School. She qualified in Management under the Gearing for the Future programme with Irish Management Institute and she is also a fully Accredited Mediator with Friary Law.
Anne Marie Clarke is based in Ballina, Co. Mayo. She holds a Masters of Agricultural Science Degree and specialises in all EU Schemes and Agricultural Consultancy Advice.
Tom Dawson is based in Tipperary and deals with all EU Schemes, Farm Business Consultancy and also Expert Witness and CPO cases.
Richard Rea’s area of expertise is Compulsory Purchase Orders involving National Roads, Irish Water, Eirgrid and as an Expert Witness in court cases involving farming issues.
When Richard started out, there were only 15 agri consultants in the country and that number has since swelled to over 150.
As he himself pointed out, there are more ACA with full-time offices today than there are full-time Teagasc offices. Richard has been President of Agricultural Consultants Association on two occasions.
Things have come a long way over the past four decades, so the burning question is what has been the secret to the REA Group’s continued success after all these years?
“Rea Group’s success is due to our independent views that we take when giving advice and also we always act for the property owner, never for the acquiring authority where we deal with compulsory purchase orders,” explains Richard.
“To date the firm has been involved in over 1,000 CPO cases since 1994 when we were asked by a farmer in Kilkenny to take up his case.”
Since then Richard Rea is currently one of the leading consultants in handling CPO cases from commencement to preparing objections, representations at Oral Hearings, liasing with the acquiring authority to influence design, preparing and negotiating claims and arbitration.
“I’d be the last person to make a judgement on that (why clients choose REA Group first),” he candidly stated. “But I suppose it is down to consistency and our track record here and we stand out against injustice.
“We would have the reputation for fighting to the best of our ability for our client if it was justified.
“We also deal with banking for clients, involved in family settlements and business partnerships. I really think, at this stage, there should be courses you have to complete before entering into a partnership.”
Looking towards the coming months, Richard is optimistic as ever for the business and hopes that it can continue to grow going forward.
“We have rotating clients here and there’s some of them that we mightn’t see for 20 years,” he explained. We have regular repeat work from solicitors.
“Similarly, we’d be involved in divorce cases too and, at the end of the day, the last person to be retained is the agricultural consultant. That’s just the way it is.”
Richards view is that the system of CPO’s are designed in an unfair manner based on old legislation dating back to 1845, 1919 and 1966.
“What was appropriate one hundred years ago is not fit for purpose in 2021. The system is being biased against the property owner and he considers it is an unfair process.
“Criminals are treated far better than property owners as they are provided with free legal aid.”
Richard is of the view that a free valuation and advisory service should be available to property owners from the commencement of the CPO process not from after the CPO has been confirmed which is the present position.
The IFA agreement of 2001/2002 brought a modern approach to how CPO’s are dealt with for farms.
“This approach needs to be extended to householders who are losing their houses. In such cases where houses are being taken, they are entitled to market value plus disturbance. However due to new building standards the level of compensation will be insufficient to put house holders back to the same position prior to their house being compulsorily acquired.
“This in an absolute scandal. If the householder was a Bat the local authority would provide a new Bat house which is what has occurred in Killaloe/Ballina or if they were livestock they would be compensated on the principle of new for old as applies under the IFA agreement.”
In addition the Rea Group provides Expert Witness Reports for court cases. Such cases would involve personal accident claims connected with farming and divorce cases or family disputes.
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 6, November/December 2021