€177 million in 2019 payroll costs at Department of Agriculture

More than €177 million was spent on staff payroll costs at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in 2019.

The figures have been revealed in response to a parliamentary question posed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue by Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara.

The figures show an allocation of €179,731,000 for salary costs at the department for 2019, however the salary spend was less than that at €177,311,201 representing a payroll saving of approximately €2.4m.

The minister’s response states that the saving is “mainly due to the delays in Brexit throughout 2019 allowing for slower Brexit-related recruitment and savings in shift allowance.”

The department also came in under budget for its overtime spend. It had been allocated €3,347,000 but only spent €3,043,920 – a saving of over €303,000.

Travel and subsistence

The department did exceed its allocation for travel and subsistence for 2019 by more than one million euro.

The total allocation for 2019 was €8 million, however a total spend of €9,002,130 was made.

The minister said the extra spend arose due to a number of factors:
  • An increase in staff numbers;
  • Additional activities associated with the department’s supervised food production facilities including new facilities coming under the department’s responsibility, increased livestock slaughter numbers and expansion of the dairy herd;
  • Increased animal health surveillance work, i.e. TB eradication;
  • Increased farm inspection activity associated with Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Pillar II schemes and new schemes.

The minister stated: “My department’s travel expenditure is continuously monitored and activities that require regular travel are reviewed with a view to reducing travel costs.

Since 2007, expenditure on travel has been reduced by 39% (from €14.7m). These considerable savings have been delivered by deploying technology, improving business processes and rationalising inspections.

“However, it must be borne in mind that much of the department’s business takes place on farms and other premises, which are in remote locations,” the minister said.