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Speech by Professor Gerry Boyle, Director, at the launch of the New Beef Technol

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I would like to welcome the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD to this Teagasc event here in Kilkenny mart this evening.

Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc 

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to welcome the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD to this Teagasc event here in Kilkenny mart this evening.

The big challenge facing all beef producers is generating a margin in beef farming and the theme for tonight’s event ‘profitable suckling’ is entirely appropriate given the challenge that all beef producers face.

The financial results for farms, as measured by the Teagasc eProfit Monitor clearly shows a gap between the profits being generated by the top farmers and those at the bottom.  The financial gap is primarily down to lower output, fewer kilos of beef being produced per hectare on the bottom farms compared to the top ones.   

The key to addressing this output gap is to increase stocking rate on farms.  Increased grass production and utilisation will allow a higher stocking rate to be carried. If you can grow more grass and use it efficiently, you will have more animals to sell per hectare.

Both the Derrpatrick research demonstration herd in Teagasc Grange and the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme have shown what can be achieved through increasing the numbers of animals carried per hectare.  

In the Teagasc Derrypatrick herd in Grange, the Profit Monitor result for 2011 shows a gross margin of €1,107 per hectare. Stocking rate is the most important driver in achieving that level of performance.

On the commercial farms in the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER Farm Beef Programme, the target gross margin is €1,000 per hectare. The preliminary results for 2011 from the Profit Monitors completed to date for the farms participating, show that they are on track to reach an average gross margin of €800 per hectare. Steady progress has been made on these farms over the last three years, lifting the average gross margin from €386 per hectare in the first year.

These show what can be achieved and what drives the physical and financial performance on farms.  You will no doubt be glad to hear that we are currently in the process of finalising the second phase of this programme with our industry partners in Dawn Meats, Kepak, ABP,  FBD and the Farmers Journal. It will be rolled out into every county with 30 farms participating. Discussion groups will be built around the existing farms that took part in the first phase of the programme.

Teagasc has a busy and productive research programme in beef. In addition to the Derrypatrick research demonstration herd, which I mentioned earlier, there are two bull beef projects – one in Grange on bulls from the beef herd and one in Johnstown Castle, in association with Dawn Meats, on bulls from the dairy herd.  

I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that Teagasc are actively investigating the possibility of establishing a beef demonstration beef herd in the west of Ireland to show case best practice on a scale suitable for that region.

The Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) which the Minister is launching here this evening will play an important role in helping farmers to develop and improve their beef businesses. We in Teagasc will play our role, with up to 100 advisers working with farmers in beef discussion groups to meet the objectives of the programme. These Teagasc advisers will ensure that the numbers of farmers benefitting through the participation in discussion groups will more than treble from their current levels, to the target of 5,000 individual farmers.

The programme, to my mind, contains all the vital elements of a successful beef business. The five key elements are grassland, breeding, animal health, financial and producing to market specifications. 

The Teagasc Profit Monitor tool, which I mentioned earlier, will be a compulsory element in one of the first two years. In my view it’s the foundation stone on which to build a development plan for your business, as it establishes the current level of performance and allows you to plan where to take your business.  

On the breeding side, Teagasc will be working closely with ICBF to maximise the benefits that farmers can obtain by participating in Herd Plus.

So with those few words, I look forward now to the Minister announcing the details and launching the Beef Technology Adoption Programme.

But before I hand over to the Minister I would like to thank my Teagasc colleagues, John Moloney Teagasc regional manager and all his staff,  Terry Carroll, Drystock Business and Technology adviser and Pearse Kelly, Teagasc Beef specialist, for the  excellent  job they did in organising tonight’s event.

Thank You