Teagasc Implementing Change Programme
Farming and the agri food industry made steady progress during 2011, generating important economic activity in rural area and valuable export earnings for the country.
Speaking at the launch of the 2011 Teagasc Annual Report and Financial Statements, Teagasc chairman Dr Noel Cawley said: “Solid science based technical information is one of the critical foundation stones for the farming and food industry. Teagasc through its research, education and advisory activities are working to support a sustainable, competitive industry as it strives to achieve the production growth targets set in Food Harvest 2020.”
In 2011 strong prices for the main farm produce, milk, beef, and grain helped to increase average farm incomes, reaching an average of €24,461. In 2011, Irish agri-food and drink exports reached nearly €8.9 billion accounting for almost 10% of Ireland’s exports.
Teagasc continues to rationalise its operations through the implementation of the Teagasc Change Programme, which was agreed in 2009. Over the last three years changes have been successfully implemented. Up to the end of 2011, 36 offices around the country closed, and today that figure stands at 40. This reduces the number of Teagasc offices down from 91 to 51. The leasing of land for research, in Leenane in county Galway and Ballydague in county Cork were discontinued. Staff numbers in Teagasc have reduced from 1,574 in 2008 down to 1,189 at the end of 2011.
Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle said that 2011 was a busy year for the organisation and new and exciting activities were initiated. “We have world leading research scientists working in a numbers of fields such, as animal genomics and food probiotics, to name just two. This home grown expertise is building Ireland’s scientific reputation abroad, helping Ireland establish valuable collaborations with leading research organisations around the world. At home, our staff, despite a reduction in number, continues to deliver high quality education courses to an increasing number of students and our advisers have grown the numbers of farmers participating in discussion groups.”
Significant activities for Teagasc during 2011 included:
- Continued growth in the number of students studying agriculture courses
- Significant increase in the numbers of farmers participating in discussion groups through the Dairy Efficiency Programme(DEP) and the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP)
- A formal education and research partnership was signed with UCD
- The Potato Genome Sequencing consortium, which included Teagasc, published a sequence of the Potato Genome
- A second phase of the Agricultural Catchments programme, which is looking at water quality in farming areas, commenced in 2011
- Briefing notes on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Audits for Irish agriculture were prepared.
- Teagasc advisers completed over 40,000 single farm payment applications on behalf of clients
- Advisers had almost 100,000 visits or consultations with clients
- A new Greenfield Dairy farm was set up in West Cork
- The new Teagasc Sheep Research and Knowledge Transfer strategy was launched. This included setting up a sheep research and demonstration farm in Athenry and expanding the BETTER sheep farm programme
- A Joint Initiative between Teagasc food programme and the Irish Dairy Board was launched
- Competitive research funding of €3.6 million from EU Framework seven programme secured
- An MOU was signed with the Horticultural Development unit in the UK
- Teagasc Road Maps for 9 sectors were published outlining the technical performance required at farm level to meet the Food Harvest 2020 targets
- The Teagasc Dairy Manual was published in 2011. A new Teagasc Beef Manual has been published in the current year.
Total Teagasc income for 2011 amounted to €173.3 million excluding net deferred funding for pensions. Current expenditure, excluding net deferred funding for pension, amounted to €174.2 million, which when combined with the reduction in capital reserves of €5,000 resulted in an overall reduction of €0.96 million in the Income and Expenditure Account Reserve in the year.