Irish agri sector to get ‘ConnectEd’ to improve sustainability

The latest farm economic forecasts were revealed – along with details of a new sustainability initiative that is being rolled out across the country – at the Teagasc ConnectEd Spring Economic Briefing.

The event took place yesterday (Tuesday, February 7) at the Cork Airport Hotel.

Welcoming participants, Teagasc regional manager Billy Kelleher emphasised the importance of rural professionals working together to support the sustainability of the agri-food sector in Cork.

Mark Gibson, programme manager for the relatively new Teagasc ConnectEd Programme, outlined how the ConnectEd programme aims to enhance linkages between rural professions supporting the agri-food sector.

L-R: Gerry Greally, Department of Agriculture; Fergal O’Mahony, Teagasc Midleton; Bernedette Bennett, Teagasc; Brendan O’Sullivan, Bank of Ireland. Image source: O’Gorman Photography

Gibson explained: “The Teagasc ConnectEd programme has been specifically designed to provide Ireland’s rural professionals with access to high-quality training, specialist updates and industry forecasts.

“As a member of Teagasc ConnectEd, rural professionals and businesses will benefit from being part of Ireland’s fastest growing agri-food knowledge network.”

Teagasc economist Trevor Donnellan said: “Irish dairy farms incomes had recovered dramatically in 2017, with farmers finally seeing the benefits of dairy expansion in terms of the money in their pocket.

However, the outlook for dairy in 2018 is not as positive as for 2017 – with a weakening in Irish farm milk prices of the order of 10% likely to take place as global milk supply growth begins to outpace milk demand growth.

In terms of cattle production, Donnellan said that margins on single suckling enterprises in 2018 will remain stable, while cattle finishers will see an 8% increase in gross margin.

2017 marked a partial recovery in incomes on tillage farms, as they experienced an improvement in cereal and straw prices.

Sustainability support

Gibson introduced the new ‘Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme’ that Teagasc is rolling out across Ireland in collaboration with the Waters and Communities Office and Dairy Industry Ireland.

The programme is a new approach to achieving improvement in water quality involving the establishment and joint funding of a resource of 30 agricultural sustainability advisors.

Under the new programme, the new team will promote on-farm sustainability best practice to all farmers.

The programme is jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Dairy Industry Ireland.