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

Today Teagasc officially launched the Cork West 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 this is the fourth to be launched. The plan was launched by Mr Jim Daly TD who highlighted the critical role the Teagasc Advisory Service in Cork West has in supporting farmers over the coming years.

Speaking at the event, Teagasc Board member Alan Jagoe, said that the detailed strategic planning exercise had highlighted the enormous opportunities for growth in the farming sector in the Cork West 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 40% decrease in advisory numbers since 2008. Mr Jagoe 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 West, Billy Kelleher, 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 35 - 40% in milk supplies in the region over the next five years. In addition we anticipate increased output from our sheep industry and better profit from efficiency in cattle. Our specialised tillage sector will come under increasing pressure to acquire land on conacre. Crop production for fodder will continue as a major enterprise on some of the regions 1000 mixed farms. 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. Mr Kelleher stressed the need for farmers in all livestock enterprises to concentrate on Grass Dry matter utilisation per Hectare.’

The strategic plan profiles the farming systems, land type and fertility, and the farm sizes in Cork West. 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 West.

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

  • Implement dairy development programmes to help deliver a 50% increase in milk solids output on dairy farms Maximise grass DM use across all enterprises by promoting grass budgeting practices.
  • Promote systems that deliver 85%+ six week calving rates on dairy & suckler farms.
  • Promote rapid genetic improvement on suckler and sheep farms in conjunction with our two ‘Better Farms’ in the Region.
  • Provide part-time Education courses leading to the Green Cert for young farmers.
  • Increase numbers participating in discussion groups in all enterprises. (Knowledge Transfer)
  • Implement financial planning and cash flow planning services for farmers in all enterprises.
  • Work with Carbery & Dairygold and other industry partners to provide vital technical and financial information and support to the farming public.
  • Help implement collaborative farming and land mobility options on farms.
  • Set up a calf to beef monitor farm and promote this system.
  • Establish a hill sheep Better Farm and promote expansion in sheep as a profitable enterprise
  • Maintain a crops technical advisory and development service to clients and industry.
  • Promote lower carbon farming and completion of the Carbon Navigator on 50% of farms.
  • Facilitate the maximum number of clients to apply for GLAS through working with our strategic partner.
  • Provide workshops and public events for non-clients. (Public Good Role).
  • Provide good technical and development information for Forestry & alternative land use.
  • Organise regulatory planning services for farmers to ensure direct payments are protected.