Contractors gear up for new TG4 series

A new six-part TV series exploring the working lives of seven Irish agricultural contracting families from diverse locations is set to air later this month.

The entertainment documentary Contractors will follow the families over a critical period from April to September, and will air on TG4 on Thursday, February 24.

The program will feature crews from Limerick, Kerry, Meath, Tipperary, Galway, Donegal and Clare, while highlighting the professional challenges they face, the high and lows of their daily routine, and their personal aspirations for a life in agriculture.

Each episode will follow a theme based on the time of year and work involved.

Director Evan Chamberlain said: “Culturally and economically, farming is Ireland’s oldest and most resilient industry. It’s such a part of who we are … that we often take it for granted.

Pat Farrelly. Picture: TG4

“For the 137,000 families whose livelihoods depend on it, farming is a full-on, full-time job. But a few farmers have the time, the manpower or the expensive specialist plant required to do it. And so they call on the services of 1,800 agricultural contractors from all around the country. Every year and in all weathers, these hardworking journeymen and women arrive with 20,000 tractors and harvesters, €150 million worth of agricultural machinery and 10,000 full and part-time operators to get the job done.

“In a single season, their crews will harvest 5m bales of silage, spread 10bn litres of slurry and handle a mammoth nationwide program of hedge-cutting, reseeding, crop spraying, fencing, plowing and drainage maintenance.

“Timeframes are short, fuel is expensive, bad weather can derail a season and red tape can reduce a workforce to critical levels.

“These are real, hard-working people. Some are full-time farmers who offer their skills and machines for hire come plowing season and harvest time.

“Others are dedicated contractors who hire additional help for the busy months — among them, mums, dads and students earning money to cover the rent — a connected community in a no-nonsense world where time costs money and excuses count for nothing.”

Alastair Doherty.  Picture: TG4

Alastair Doherty. Picture: TG4

Viewers can expect to hear tricks of the trade, unexpected twists, good times and bad as six contractors gear up to tame the land. We’ll discover not only how they deal with shrinking margins and logistical challenges, but also how they manage the equally daunting balance of work and family life.

The Irish language program will also feature female-led and female-centred enterprises.

“There’ll be machinery to repair, herds to milk, bread to bake, crews to wrangle, clients to appease, weather to predict, and deadlines to meet,” Mr Chamberlain added.


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