Farmers in Discussion Groups Generate Higher Profits
Farmers who are members of discussion groups are more likely than non-members to adopt new technologies, achieve higher physical performance in their farming enterprise and generate higher profit levels. These are the main findings of an independent evaluation report carried out by Broadmore Research on the ‘Impact of Participation in Teagasc Dairy Discussion Groups.’ Pat Bogue of Broadmore Research said: “Farmer members of dairy discussion groups earned statistically significant higher gross margins per hectare than non-members, in the order of €240 per hectare. A higher percentage of group members achieved the physical targets set out in the Teagasc Roadmaps compared to non- members. The Dairy Efficiency Programme (DEP) had a positive impact on grassland, breeding and financial management.”
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle welcomed the independent evaluation of Teagasc dairy discussion groups. He said: “Discussion groups are a key methodology used by Teagasc to transfer new technology to farmers. Farmers who are members of groups are up to 20 percent more likely to adopt new technologies and improve management practices on farms, resulting in a financial benefit for the farmer. For a 40 hectare dairy farmer, this is worth, on average, up to €10,000. “
Tom O Dwyer, Head of Dairy Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said: “Discussion groups provide a valuable peer- to -peer learning environment. The evaluation report shows that the majority of farmers join discussion groups to learn and gain new information. But importantly they act on the information gained and adopt technologies in grassland management, breeding and herd fertility and in financial management on their farms.
Teagasc operates a total of 697 discussion groups, covering dairy, beef, sheep and tillage, with 12,000 farmer members. Since 2009, government policy, through the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, has been supporting an increase in discussion groups through the DEP, BTAP and STAP programmes. A copy of the independent evaluation report was presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD today, Tuesday 15 January.
This analysis revealed that traditionally discussion group members tended to be younger, formally trained in farming and operating larger holdings in more agriculturally advantaged regions of the country. The Dairy Efficiency Programme has been successful in broadening the scope of discussion group membership by attracting farmers with smaller holdings, from less advantaged regions.
Pat Bogue, Broadmore Research with Tom O’Dwyer, Teagasc; Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Professor Gerry Boyle, Teagasc Director at the launch of an independent evaluation of the impact on farmers participating in Teagasc dairy discussion groups 2009-2011. The report was commissioned by Teagasc.