Row over consultant pay discrepancy

Majella O'Sullivan

TEAGASC has disputed a claim by the ACA that private agricultural consultants earn only €37.50/hour compared to their Teagasc counterparts' €86.60/hour.

A survey carried out by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) for the ACA claimed the average income of its consultants was around €45,000 per annum.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding said that, based on Teagasc annual reports for 2008 and 2007, its advisers earned salaries of €104,000 per annum, which included expenses and other benefits such as pensions.

However, a spokesman for Teagasc has dismissed the findings of the survey as "simplistic".

"The figures quoted include costs relating to the delivery of education and training to farmers as well as advisory work," the spokesman said.

"A significant portion of the work undertaken by the advisory service is development work and is not being delivered by the private sector."

The spokesman said Teagasc had always limited its share of the market for REPS to less than 45pc, and delivered on a full cost recovery basis.

He also pointed out that as part of its restructuring, the numbers working in its advisory service will have reduced by 42pc by the end of this year.

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Mr Fielding said ACA members should be aiming for income levels near the Teagasc figure. "It's disgraceful to think the average salary of people working as agricultural consultants is somewhere in the region of €45,000. That is shocking and it's not for a lack of professionalism."

Irish Independent

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