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Independent.ie

Wednesday 7 December 2016

REPS farmer fall-off cuts Teagasc income

Declan O'Brien

Published 16/11/2011 | 06:00

A sharp fall in the number of REPS farmers knocked €4.1m off Teagasc's income from its advisory service last year.

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Total returns from advisory fees fell from €15.47m in 2009 to €11.37m last year, which represented a reduction of 26pc.

A spokesman for Teagasc attributed the drop in advisory fees to the fall-off in membership of REPS, and also the reduced number of Teagasc advisors.

The figures are included in the Teagasc annual report for 2010, which was published yesterday.

The report showed that total expenditure at Teagasc fell by €14.3m to €186.79m last year. The bulk of the savings came from a 16pc cut in the wage bill.

Deterioration

However, despite staff numbers falling from 1,600 to 1,250 over the past three years, the wage and pension bill still accounts for 73.5pc of the agency's overall spend, or €140.6m.

The continuing deterioration in the public finances has been reflected in the level of Government funding for Teagasc. The total State subvention to the agency fell from €146m to €134.65m between 2009 and last year.

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Other interesting nuggets from the report included the fact that the agency made €2m from livestock trading. Ordinary board members got €12,000 in fees, while the chairman Dr Noel Cawley received €21,000.

Commenting on the current performance of the agri-sector, Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle said that there was now "greater recognition" of the contribution of farming to the Irish economy.

Prof Boyle said this was also reflected in the increased level of enrolments in agriculture colleges, which had grown by 80pc since 2006. However, he regretted the fact that 200 students could not be accommodated at Teagasc colleges this year.

"While the increase in student numbers is very positive, the loss of around 17 teaching staff since the introduction of the moratorium on public sector recruitment was introduced has created difficulties for the organisation in meeting the demand for college places," Prof Boyle said.

He insisted Teagasc would continue to offer educational, advisory and research services to its 40,000 farmer clients and to the country's 100,000 farmers so that Ireland could realise the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020.

"The Food Harvest 2020 Report provides a blueprint for the future development of the agri-food sector and Teagasc is committed to playing its role in achieving the targets set," Prof Boyle added.

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