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Teagasc Launches the Wexford/ Wicklow/ Carlow Advisory Region, Strategic Plan 2015-2020

Today Teagasc officially launched the Wexford/Wicklow/Carlow Advisory Region Strategic Plan 2015- 2020. The plan sets out the key priorities and strategic actions for the region’s 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. The plan was launched by Mr Paul Keogh, Government Chief Whip who highlighted the critical role of the Teagasc Advisory Service in Wexford/ Wicklow/ Carlow has in supporting farmers over the coming years.

Speaking at the event, Teagasc Board member Thomas Cooke, said that the detailed strategic planning exercise had highlighted the enormous opportunities for growth in the farming sector in the Wexford/Wicklow/Carlow 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 36% decrease in advisory numbers in the region since 2008. Mr Cooke 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, advisers 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 advisers required to support the sector between now and 2020 and it is essential that impending retirements are replaced immediately.’

At the launch, Teagasc Advisory Regional Manager for Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow, Siobhán Kavanagh, 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 40% in milk supplies in the region over the next five years. In addition we anticipate increased output from our tillage and sheep industry and better profit from efficiency in cattle. Our education programme will position young farmers well for the future and help 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 Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow. 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 Wexford, Wicklow and Carlow.

Summary of Strategic Targets

Key Targets set out in the Teagasc Wexford/Wicklow/Carlow Advisory Region Strategic Plan

  • Provide best practice guidance to allow farmers to exploit the opportunities and facilitate a 40% increase in milk output over the next 5 years.
  • Increase numbers participating in discussion groups in all enterprises.
  • Increased use of workshops as an extension tool for non-discussion group farmers.
  • Develop dairy calf to beef systems (expected increase of 20%) through events, demonstrations and discussion groups.
  • Teagasc will operate 2 BETTER Sheep farms and associated programmes to achieve the target increase in lamb carcass output of 10 kg / ha.
  • Increase the focus on the utilisation of profit monitor data to benchmark costs on tillage farms.
  • Develop 3 demonstration tillage farms, to meet the expected 5% growth in tillage.
  • Foster strategic alliances of industry partners including feed companies, vets, AHI, ICBF, meat processors, accountants & solicitors as well as the grain trade.
  • Develop on-farm projects across enterprises for new technology demonstration.
  • Set up a Facebook page for the unit.
  • Conduct a survey of young trained farmers to establish their extension requirements.
  • Provide Green Cert courses for young farmers in the region.
  • Deliver a pilot project, targeting transition year students for projects on farm safety.
  • Target 50% of clients to complete the Carbon Navigator annually.