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FTMTA President, Mr. James Butler, Introduction

“To promote the highest standards of professionalism in the farm machinery industry”

Firstly I would like to express my sincere thanks to all my fellow members of the FTMTA Executive Council for selecting me to serve as President of our Association for the forthcoming year. My thanks also to the FTMTA staff of Gary Ryan, Conor McGuinness and Angelika Olewinska for all their hard work and commitment to the Association. I want to convey our special thanks to Gary, our Chief Executive, for the work he does behind the scenes dealing with issues of regulation and compliance; his hard work makes our collective businesses run more smoothly and we are grateful for his help and support in these matters. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Executive Council for their voluntary efforts with a special mention to, the outgoing President, Graham McHugh for the effort and commitment he has given to the Association especially during his term as President over the last two years. We have been pleased to welcome two new members onto Council during the year in Mr. Karol Duigenan of Claas and Mr. Derek Delahunty of Lemken; I look forward to working with them both in the interests of our industry.

The agri sector in general is getting smaller and smaller overtime with a definite move towards fewer but larger scale operations.   As an overall interdependent group farmers, dealers, merchants and all the representative bodies need to work together for everyone’s mutual benefit. Brexit and world trade negotiations are still ongoing and Brexit will clearly bring challenges for our customers and within our own businesses. We look forward to a resolution that will generate positivity and remove the damaging uncertainty created in the last couple of years.

The farming sector has now become very technology based. A lot of farming enterprises have become dependent on technology. Ensuring that we have a skilled workforce has become a serious challenge in our industry, as it has in much of the wider agriculture scene, so it’s more important than ever for people to engage with this issue; we must ensure our people are upskilled and trained in the installation, repair and use of such equipment. To achieve this we must firstly encourage young people to join our industry. It is important that manufacturers, suppliers and dealers alike strive to make our industry an attractive option for young people by providing them with good working conditions and continuous training. Our trade hasn’t put enough emphasis on this area in the past and it’s something we need to improve going forward. All aspects of farming are now closely related to climate change and the environment. This too will play an important part in our future. In this industry, businesses of the future will need to surround themselves with a good team who are properly educated and trained to deal with the changing requirements of an evolving sector.

Health and safety now plays a big part in the running of any business.   Each individual business has a responsibility to keep their employees and customers safe. Again education plays an important part in this, employee training in this area is a must, as businesses we must become more proactive and less reactive on this subject.

Over the last number of years, FTMTA has focused considerable efforts on educational development and in conjunction with IT Tralee a new degree course in Agricultural Mechanisation was launched in 2015.   The course was well received and the first graduates came through in the summer of this year. I know that the Association will continue to work together with IT Tralee to get the best training we can for our future technicians.

Finally our weather proved difficult earlier this year with a long wet spring followed by a drought in the summer. While we are unlikely to forget 2018 in a hurry, the weather for the last few months has thankfully been much improved and the mood of farmers, at the time of writing, is now far more positive facing into the winter.   We are glad that the outlook for next year has now improved and we look forward to a positive 2019.

The FTMTA Farm Machinery Show to be held in Punchestown near Naas on February 7th, 8th and 9th marks the 30th anniversary of the first such event held by the Association in the RDS during February of 1989. The Show has grown considerably over the years and we expect to welcome in excess of 20,000 visitors over the three days of the flagship event for the Irish farm machinery industry. The 2019 Show will be the biggest ever held with the addition of a considerable amount of extra indoor exhibition space in response to the requirements of our exhibitors.

James Butler       

FTMTA President

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