Challenges and Opportunities for the Agriculture Sector
It’s an exciting time in Agriculture notwithstanding the challenges currently facing certain enterprises. Teagasc’s integrated research, education and advisory services are providing the science to underpin the future development of the Irish agriculture and food industry.
Speaking at the publication of the Teagasc Annual Report and Accounts for 2013, Chairman Dr Noel Cawley said: ”At farm level, farmers had a mixed year in 2013, depending on their individual enterprises. Dairying continues to offer the best returns for producers and is on the verge of entering a new era with the removal of milk quotas in 2015. The other enterprises present more challenges at farm level for producers to earn adequate returns on their land, labour and capital employed. The average income on Irish farms increased slightly in 2013 to €25,639.”
Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “A number of important initiatives were undertaken by Teagasc in 2013 to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector in the longer term. These included the establishment of the Next Generation Dairy Herd at Teagasc in Moorepark and a Beef Maternal Index Herd in Grange. These initiatives are significant in advancing animal breeding in the national dairy and beef herds.”
Knowledge Transfer activities by Teagasc advisers centred on farm discussion groups, which yielded higher levels of technology uptake on participating farms resulting in higher overall profitability as measured by the Teagasc eProfit monitor. There is an average of 25 discussion group meetings facilitated by Teagasc advisers per working day.
Demand for education courses in 2013 continued at the elevated levels of recent years. Demand increased again in 2014 when applicants for the Teagasc Distance Education Green Cert and the Regional Part Time Green Cert increased threefold to 1,500 applicants. This is in addition to close to 2,000 students who have enrolled in Further Education courses and Teagasc linked Higher Education courses delivered in the agriculture colleges in 2014/15 academic year.
Key themes that Teagasc worked on in 2013 included CAP Reform, the fodder crisis, greenhouse gasses and climate change, the Chalara disease of ash trees and developing cooperation between the UK and Ireland in the food sector.
Key outputs for Teagasc during 2013 included:
- 3,700 students on courses in the 2013 academic year
- Over 800 farmer discussion groups involving 12,500 farmers participating
- Over 40,000 farmer clients
- 89 research projects completed
- 76 technology updates published
- 381 refereed scientific papers
- 48 Walsh Fellows completed their PhD’s or Masters
- MOU signed with Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science
- Two new potatoes varieties bred in 2013 – Bikini and Casino
- Three new grass and two clover varieties added to recommended lists
- New cheeses developed with the Irish Dairy Board
- Promotion of Collaborative Farming arrangements
- Drainage Manual published
Total income for Teagasc for 2013 was €163.16 million, excluding net deferred funding for pensions. The net surplus for the year was €330,000 on the current account. Transfers for capital expenditure of €1.53 million left a deficit for the year of €1.2 million. The balances at the year-end were €9.03 million.
Teagasc continues to adapt and change its business. The Teagasc Change Programmes 1 and 2 have been implemented over the last 5 years. Change programme 3 was agreed by the Teagasc Authority and is being implemented over a 3 year period. The biggest challenge facing the organisation is the continuous reduction in staff numbers.
For further information click on the following link Teagasc_Annual_Report_2013