John Hughes from Danville, Kilkenny has been elected as the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland’s (FCI) new national chair.
He was chosen to fill the position at the association’s AGM which was held online recently.
He has been a member of the FCI national council for several years nominated by the south-east region.
John is a second-generation farm contractor; his late father, Kevin Hughes, began the family farm contracting business back in 1947.
Tillage contracting service
John, in partnership with his brother Brendan, has operated a mainly tillage-based contractor business at Danville, Kilkenny for more than 25 years while having worked in farm contracting for over four decades.
In more recent years, John and Brendan have focussed on a tillage contracting service. Services include cultivation, sowing, spraying and combine harvesting services for a range of tillage crops as well as an extensive big square baling service across the Leinster region.
Active membership ‘lifeblood’ of association
As FCI national chair, John aims to build the membership of the association, as without an active membership we will have no association, said John.
“An active membership is the lifeblood of the association and a strong and committed membership will feed the future development of FCI,” he said.
“As contractors, we trade on our reputation for good work based on our skills and ability to provide an efficient and quality service to Irish farming,” said the new FCI national chair.
“Our most valuable asset is our staff, without their commitment no contracting business can survive,” he added.
“As contractors, we need to get recognition as the people who drive the tractors early in the morning and late at night, keeping the wheels of Irish agriculture moving forward,” he added.
“While the silage harvest is very visible, often many contractors are also working behind the hedges and are not always as visible; they are working long hours to stay ahead of the weather and crop demands.”
“As contractors, we need that important role to be duly recognised by Government bodies and farm organisations and that’s just part of what FCI does on an ongoing basis on behalf of all farm and forestry contractors in Ireland.”
At the recent FCI AGM, John requested members to consider those who had gone before him in their efforts to develop Irish contractor associations and he asked for those present to especially remember the late Alan McCartney from Moynalty, Kells, Co Meath who had died during the summer months.
“It is people like the late Alan McCartney who have allowed me to stand on the shoulders of giants from the past, in agricultural contracting,” added Hughes.
25 years in farm contracting business
John also told the meeting that FCI was the third contractor association that he had been involved in over his 25 years in the farm contracting business. “FCI has achieved more in the nine years of its existence than any other organisation before.”
“We aim to develop FCI into an association that is representative of the work of all contractors and we can best achieve that with greater national support from all farm and forestry contractors,” he added.
Other FCI officers elected
Two vice-chair positions were also filled, with Mountbellew, Galway-based contractor, Martin Fleming and Ann Hanrahan securing these roles.
Martin is currently chair of the FCI Galway/Clare region and has been a member of the FCI national council for several years.
He runs a general farm contracting business with the support of his brother Michael at Mountbellew, Galway.
Ann Hanrahan from Killylon, Birr, Offaly was co-opted to the Association’s national council in 2019 in place of her son Keith.
Ann and Gerard Hanrahan have run G & A Hanrahan Ltd, a farm contracting business that services most aspects of farm and local authority work for more than 20 years.
Martin Hanley, who operates a farm contractor business from Tara, Meath trading at Hanley Agri Ltd, was elected as the new honorary treasurer of FCI.
He has been regional chairman of the north-east region of FCI and a member of the FCI National Council for several years.
Former national chair, Richard White, was elected as honorary secretary, replacing Peter Farrelly, who was elected to a new position as FCI’s new CEETTAR delegate.