CAFRE, UFU and the Dairy Council invite farmers to Sustainable Labour Conference

Date published: 23 November 2023

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), the Ulster Farmers’ Union and The Dairy Council NI will be hosting an event on Labour Sustainability on Tuesday 5 December 2023 from 10:30am – 3:00pm in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch.

The event will focus on improving labour productivity from an evolving and diverse workforce, highlighting technologies available as well as considering people and time management on farm. The event will feature CAFRE’s Anna Truesdale on a recent labour study conducted in Co Down, and key-note specialists including Nollaig Heffernan of Heffernan Consultancy Ltd, Tom Rawson of Evolution Farming Ltd and Rural GP Dr Rebecca Orr who will together provide an insight into time and people management, efficient and sustainable farming systems and looking after the farms number one asset – the farmer.

Speaking ahead of the event, CAFRE Dairy Adviser Anna Truesdale said: “The farmers in Northern Ireland are the industries most valuable asset and we want to help protect them, and their businesses, by increasing awareness of hours worked, the labour market and the short- and long-term solutions to a more sustainable working day.”

Through on-farm discussions with Business Development Groups, CAFRE have found that the current situation can be improved on most farms. New technologies and practise have gone some way to improve the labour efficiency on farm. However, changes to the mindset and attitude of farmers towards time management is still the primary tool required to reduce the number of hours required to run a dairy farm business.

The addition of the specialists on the day will allow CAFRE to present to guests both sides of the labour-conundrum, notably enabling discussions around the ‘people’ that work on farms in Northern Ireland as well as the ‘work’ that the people do.

Nollaig Heffernan formed Heffernan Consultancy Ltd and is an expert in Leadership and Organisational Psychology. She has developed a reputation for delivering thought-provoking, relevant and enjoyable workshops in the Dairy Industry and frequently speaks at dairy conferences, symposia and on podcasts across Ireland, the UK and Australia.

Tom Rawson farms in West Yorkshire on his 240 cow Autumn calving unit. In 2010, he co-founded Evolution Farming Ltd with a dairy tenancy in Lincolnshire. This has now grown to milking 3800 cows over 9 individual units, along with 1000 acres of organic arable and a small beef and sheep enterprise. At peak periods, the business could be employing upwards of 80 full time and part time staff.

Dr Rebecca Orr is a practising academic GP Registrar, living and working on a North Antrim suckler and sheep farm. She has conducted significant research within Queen’s University Belfast focused on farmer health having spent time working in both New Zealand and Scotland. Currently Rebecca sits on the steering group for the Farm Family Health Checks team having also previously formed the NI Agri-Rural Health Forum.

Tickets for the event cost £15. For more information and to book your place at the conference, visit the CAFRE website.


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