THE opening session of last Friday week’s ITBA webinar saw contributions from current ITBA chair John McEnery, owner of Rossenarra Stud in Kells, Co Kilkenny; in-coming chair Cathy Grassick of Brian Grassick Bloodstock; and Shane O’Dwyer, the ITBA’s chief executive.

O’Dwyer detailed the many areas in which the ITBA has been working vigorously over the last 18 months, based on the needs and feedback from ITBA members. “Despite figures being up, it has been difficult for the industry and we want to help.”

He spoke about the Association’s work across many of the industry’s key challenges, emphasising the efforts taken with HRI to obtain work permits for employers in the industry, its ongoing engagement with European legislators, and the continuing success of the ITBA NH Fillies’ Bonus Scheme, which has paid out in excess of €2 million.

O’Dwyer highlighted the benefits provided to breeders by the ITBA’s comprehensive educational programme. He announced the Association is undertaking a cross-border project on the area of sustainability for breeders.

“The Next Generation has been a huge success with its apprentice scheme. We need to extend that still further and provide empowerment for the next generation coming through,” said O’Dwyer, who also urged people to put their names down for the forthcoming ITBA Council elections.

Chairman John McEnery made reference to the Strategic Review, which has been developed to ensure the ITBA is best positioned to help the industry. He added “We need our regional committees back and we need to bring young people in.”

Current vice-chair Cathy Grassick noted: “Female participation in our industry is huge and the best way to change things and improve things is to get involved.

“I cut my teeth on the Dublin-Kildare Regional Committee and I encourage the involvement of young people who want to have their say, to make a change and to make things better for everybody. Being involved in the ITBA is a wonderful opportunity to network and make connections. Diversity is what makes our industry strong.”