Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Teagasc applies for fees hike

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Teagasc clients considering joining the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) discussion group scheme could face significant hikes in their Teagasc annual fees.

A raft of price increases across all Teagasc packages have been approved by the Teagasc Authority, leading to -- on average -- a 5pc increase in farmers' fees.

However, farmers who want to join the new beef discussion group scheme will be subject to even greater increases, as they must switch from Teagasc's basic advisory plans to more costly discussion group packages.

The proposed new charges were submitted to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last week, and, if approved, will apply from next month.

The proposed price hikes include a €25 increase in the Teagasc Club support package for farmers with under 50 income units. Their fee will rise from €75 to €100 per farmer. The rate for farmers with over 50 income units will rise by €5.

The price of the Teagasc Plus technology package is to rise by €10 for all farmers, from rates of €175 (farms under 50 income units), €200 (50-100 income units) and €250 (over 100 income units) in 2011, to €185, €210 and €260 in 2012.

Teagasc's Extra package is also to increase by €10 across the board, from rates of €225, €250 and €300 in 2011, to €235, €260 and €315 in 2012.

The Premium package, which covers membership of a Teagasc discussion group, has been changed to distinguish between farmers participating in the Dairy Efficiency Programme (DEP) and BTAP beef discussion groups. Depending on farm size, the rate for dairy discussion group membership last year was €375, €400 or €450. In 2012, these rates will increase by €20 across the board to €395, €420 or €470.

Also Read

The rates for membership of a beef discussion group will be €300 for farms with under 50 income units, €345 for farms of 50-100 income units and €395 for farms over 100 income units.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said there was widespread disquiet among drystock farmers as they realised that participation in the new beef discussion group programme would lead to hikes in their annual Teagasc fees.

"The reality for many farmers is that they will have to switch from the basic Teagasc packages to the much more expensive discussion group packages," Mr Gilmartin said.

"For example, a farmer with over 100 income units, who was looking at a bill of €250 to avail of the Teagasc Plus package that includes one farm visit, will now have to fork out €395 in order to participate in the new discussion group scheme," he explained.

"There is a widespread feeling that schemes such as AEOS and the discussion group schemes are being set up in a manner to maximise Teagasc income."

However, Teagasc director of knowledge transfer, Tom Kelly, said beef farmers would be paying €75 less to participate in discussion groups than their dairy counterparts, as the BTAP scheme required fewer discussion group meetings.

"Beef farmers can also expect to reap multiple benefits in terms of farm management from their discussion group membership, aside from the €1,000 scheme payment," he said.

Indo Farming