Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

ACA slams State help for Teagasc

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

INDEPENDENT agricultural consultants have called for an end to the State subsidy of Teagasc advisers, claiming it is anti-competitive.

The Agricultural Consultants' Association (ACA) claims it now has more than 44,600 clients making it the largest provider of farm advice.

The association has called for the implementation of the recommendation of the McCarthy 'Bord Snip' report, which called for more use to be made of private agricultural consultants.

ACA president Bréian Carrol told the association's annual general meeting in Tullamore on Friday that income generated by Teagasc advisors was dwarfed by pay and travel costs, showing a net loss to the State of more than €28m.

"This State subsidy constitutes totally unfair competition and impacts negatively on private agricultural consultancy firms who cannot compete with a loss-making, State-funded organisation," Mr Carroll said.

He stressed that he was not engaged in "a Teagasc bashing mission". He said all the ACA wanted was "a level playing field" so that it could compete without "State interference".


"While the research and education services of Teagasc are extremely important to the sector, the need for heavily loss-making advisory services is a burden on the tax payer, as the private sector is more than capable of handling the work."

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Results of an independent survey carried out by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise association (ISME) on behalf of the ACA, showed that the association's client numbers now exceed 44,600.

Mr Carroll said the efforts of private consultants to meet the challenge of developing their practice was being "hampered by uneconomic State intervention" which, he said, interfered with normal business competition.

He called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to immediately revamp the farm advisory service to ensure a proper competitive structure, which would lead to a better and more economic service for farmers.

Irish Independent