Improving access to, and affordability of, farm advisory services

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 proposals make it compulsory for EU member states to provide farm advisory services on land and farm management to farmers and other beneficiaries of CAP support.

As regards the CAP 2021-2027 negotiations on the draft, proposals are continuing at EU level. While significant progress has been made to date, decisions on key issues have still to be agreed upon including those relating to farm advisory services.

This is according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, who was addressing a question put to him by deputy Thomas Pringle (Independent) during Dáil proceedings earlier this week.

Pringle asked the minister to outline the measures he plans to take to improve the accessibility and affordability of farm advisory services to farmers from Teagasc under the next CAP.

Providing a service

Meanwhile, the minister pointed to how farm advisory services are expected to cover – at a minimum – the requirements and standards under conditionality.

This, he added, includes conditions for support schemes; information on financial instruments and business plans; farm practices that prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance; risk management; innovative support; and the development of digital technologies in agriculture and rural areas.

Teagasc advisory services make an important contribution to the provision of advice and support to farm families.

Minister Creed continued: “My department provides Teagasc with significant exchequer funding each year in order to support the delivery of these education, research and advisory services.

“In excess of €135 million was provided in grant aid in 2019 – an increase of €2.7 million on 2018.

The allocation of that funding between the various services is an operational matter for Teagasc and its governing authority.

“The fee structure for Teagasc advisory services is structured to ensure that the service is accessible to all farmers by having a range of services that farmers can avail of with different fees.

“The current fee schedule and methodology is open and transparent and available on the Teagasc website.”