Teagasc Launch New Advisory Service for Farmers
12 September 2007
Teagasc is changing the way it delivers its advisory service to meet the changing needs of modern farmers. Successful commercial farms in the future will increasingly depend on cutting-edge technology to remain competitive. Successive recent agriculture policy reforms have provided the opportunity to shift the future development of farm businesses away from scheme-driven income to a more market-based business.
Teagasc has responded to this changing farming environment and adapted its advisory service to meet the needs of modern farmers. A New Advisory Service – For Better Farming was launched by Teagasc today, Wednesday, 12 September.
Speaking at the launch, Pat Boyle, head of advisory in Teagasc said: “This new service is built around four distinct programmes – business and technology, good farm practice, rural development and adult training. The Business and Technology Programme will deliver cutting-edge technology to commercial farmers, bringing the best knowledge from the applied research carried out at Teagasc research centres onto dairy, drystock and tillage farms.”
“Increased specialisation among our advisors will provide our farmer clients with the information and knowledge to increase their profits by adopting new production techniques onto their farms. Dedicated business and technology advisors, supported by a national group of enterprise specialists, will focus on improving farm businesses by challenging the status quo and increasing the uptake of technology onto farms,” he said.
Pat Boyle said: “Results from Teagasc profit monitors clearly show the financial benefits from improving business and technical performance on farms. Dairy profit monitor results for spring milk producers in 2006 showed that the net margin for the bottom 20 per cent of farms is just 5.34 cent/litre, while the top 20 per cent of farms achieved a net margin nearly three times higher at 14.66 cent/litre. For a dairy farm with 300,000 litres, the difference in net margin is worth nearly €28,000.”
This new service will be delivered through Teagasc’s nationwide office network, which is organised into 18 area units, to allow Teagasc to provide a local service to all our customers, regardless of location. The Business and Technology Programme will be delivered by 78 specialist dairy advisors, 32 cattle and sheep advisors, and 15 tillage advisors.
The four programme areas will provide a full range of services to farmers meeting the diverse needs of our customers.
Teagasc’s Good Farm Practice Programme is built around our REPS service to farmers. Over half of our customers already participate in REPS, and Teagasc is the largest provider of REPS service to Irish farmers. Teagasc REPS planners are geared up to support a further 10,000 clients to join REPS 4 between now and 2013. In addition a comprehensive support service for farmers renovating farmyards and improving their farms is also provided.
Decoupling and the introduction of the Single Farm Payment Scheme have given farmers the freedom to diversify their farm business into non traditional areas. Teagasc’s Rural Development Programme provides a service to assist individuals and groups who want to evaluate the business opportunities from alternative enterprises. The Teagasc team of rural development specialists assist thousands of farmers to pursue alternative businesses in enterprises such as organic farming, equine husbandry, deer and goat production, rural tourism, artisan food, commercial and free range poultry, and more recently innovative rural business ideas.
The changing nature of modern farming has created a constant need for existing farmers and new entrants to up skill. The Teagasc Adult Training and Life Long Learning Programme provides an extensive range of courses to inform and train farmers in relation to business development, the environment, animal welfare, and nutrient management. Up to 9,000 farmers attend Teagasc adult courses each year. Among the courses offered are REPS, certificate in farm business, computer skills, internet training for farmers, and farm safety courses.
Speaking at the launch, Tom Kirley, acting director of Teagasc, said: “European and world agricultural policy is continuously changing and evolving, presenting new challenges and opportunities for farmers, and for organisations like Teagasc that provide services to them. We have had milk quotas for nearly 25 years, but a major change is expected as part of the 2008 health check of the CAP. It is 15 years since the McSharry reforms brought in a whole new raft of schemes. The Fischler reform has already confined many of these schemes to history with the introduction of the Single Farm Payment but others like REPS, farm retirement and forestry remain and will continue to have a major influence on Irish farms. The new advisory service announced today by Teagasc equips us to provide the best possible service to farmers in these changing times, and to assist the future development of Irish agriculture.”