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Teagasc Launches the Cork East Advisory Region, Strategic Plan 2015-2020

Today Teagasc officially launched the Cork East Advisory Region Strategic Plan 2015- 2020. The plan sets out the key priorities and strategic actions for the regions publically funded advisory service over the next five years. The main purpose of this exercise was to engage with stakeholders regarding the future services to be provided in the region in the context of Food Harvest 2020 targets and the post milk quota era. Each of the twelve Advisory Regions of Teagasc has produced a Strategic Plan and today we are launching ours. The plan was launched by Mr. Sean Sherlock, Minister of State who highlighted the critical role the Teagasc Advisory Service in Cork East has in supporting farmers over the coming years.

Speaking at the event, Teagasc Board member Tim O’Leary said that the detailed strategic planning exercise had highlighted the enormous opportunities for growth in the farming sector in the particularly in Cork East Region. He underlined the need for a well-resourced advisory service if the Food Harvest 2020 targets are to be achieved. Teagasc Advisory Services have a vital role to play in leading and guiding growth and expansion in the Region. Teagasc has seen a 44% decrease in advisory numbers since 2008. Mr. O’Leary said that ‘it is imperative that we maintain a strong advisory service in the Region. Because of increasing demand for Teagasc Advisory Services and reduced staff numbers, advisors are carrying unsustainable workloads and this is putting the achievement of Food Harvest 2020 at risk. This Strategic Plan clearly sets out the minimum number of advisors required to support the sector between now and 2020 and it is essential that impending retirements are replaced immediately.’

At the launch, Teagasc Regional Manager for Cork East, Gerard MacMahon, said that Teagasc is ‘committed to delivering high quality support to the industry locally and to working in close association with farmer clients, State agencies and local partners in achieving the 2020 targets. This process has provided us with a set of solid strategic actions for the next five years. Following consultation with our stakeholders we anticipate an increase in the order of 60% in milk supplies in the region over the next five years. In addition we anticipate better profit from efficiency in cattle and sheep. Our new education courses will help farmers implement low carbon environmentally friendly and safe farming. This is an exciting time for agriculture in the Region.’

The strategic plan profiles the farming systems, land type and fertility, and the farm sizes in Cork East. Teagasc facilities and staff are then examined and the consequences for the service if current trends of declining staff numbers continue. Also highlighted are the partners with which the service works locally.

The document concludes with a listing of the main research requirements specific to the area and how stakeholders will be engaged with during the period of the plan. Hard copies of the plan have been printed and are available at each of the Teagasc offices in Cork East.

Summary of Strategic Targets
Key Targets set out in the Teagasc Cork East Advisory Region Strategic Plan

  • Target 60%+ increase in milk output
  • Increase numbers participating in discussion groups in all enterprises
  • Work with Dairygold, Glanbia, Kerry & North Cork Co-Op to support dairy expansion.
  • Provide a one to one service for new entrants and expanding dairy clients
  • Teagasc will work jointly will Animal Health Ireland to improve milk quality and disease status of livestock in the region.
  • Target 50% clients to move to lower carbon farming and completing Carbon Navigator
  • Put a soil fertility improvement plan for all high stocked farms
  • Promote collaboration between livestock farmers and tillage farmers
  • Integrate and mainstream farm safety in all of our interactions with farmers
  • Delivery short financial course for expanders and new entrants in all enterprises
  • Improve technical efficiency in all enterprises and through the knowledge transfer process