Additional reporting by Sylvester Phelan
Teagasc’s income for last year was up approximately €8 million on the previous year, according to the Teagasc 2018 annual report and accounts, published today, Thursday, October 10.
Excluding the net deferred funding for pensions, Teagasc income in 2018 was €195 million; in 2017, the authority’s income was €187 million.
There was an increase of €6.432 million in grant aid compared to 2017, according to the agency.
Knowledge Transfer income fell by €3.251 million, some 12.7%, with a drop of €1.639 million in advisory services income and €1.646 million in course fee / student fee income.
Proceeds of €488,000 were secured in 2018 for sales of assets and there was additional one-off capital funding of €1.935 million for the development of Johnstown Castle and for the purchase of a parcel of farmland.
Tackling Climate Change
Speaking at the publication of the Teagasc Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2018, chairman of the Teagasc authority, Liam Herlihy, said:
”Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing us all. In 2018, Teagasc produced a major report titled ‘Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030’, which identified measures that can be adopted by farmers to reduce the emissions from farming.
Many of these measures have subsequently been included in the Government Action Plan on climate change which was published earlier this year.
“Teagasc is intensifying its Knowledge Transfer activities with farmers to improve the adoption of these measures, so agriculture is playing its part in addressing the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Herlihy said.
The Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP), which was launched in November 2018, is aimed at maintaining and improving water quality.
The programme led by Teagasc is delivering a free, one-to-one, sustainability advisory service to more than 5,000 farmers to encourage behavioural change, facilitate knowledge transfer and achieve better on-farm environmental outcomes.
Of the 30 new agricultural sustainability advisors working with farmers to improve water quality, 20 are located in Teagasc while 10 are operating within the dairy processors’ organisational structures.
Teagasc director, Prof. Gerry Boyle, also commented on the report, stating:
“2018 was a difficult year for the farming sector due to weather-related difficulties in the winter, spring and summer.
The uncertainty created by Brexit has already impacted on the agriculture sector through a weakening of the sterling exchange rate with the euro.
“Further Brexit-related challenges face the sector. Teagasc has made a number of important investments to help the agriculture and food industry prepare for, and adapt to, the challenges ahead,” Prof. Boyle said.
In 2018 the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, through Teagasc, invested €6.5 million in the ‘National Prepared Consumer Foods Centre’ at the Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ashtown, Dublin.
The investment was in equipment and infrastructure to develop a shared research capability in order to address the low levels of research and development in the prepared consumer foods sector, according to Teagasc.
In 2018, over €2.1 million was invested in horticulture facilities at Teagasc Ashtown, including a modern glasshouse equipped with advanced systems for research, a turf grass academy, a horticultural utility building, a large multi-span ‘forestry polytunnel’ and additional polytunnels.
A mushroom research unit with a 100m² growing area was also established. These new facilities underline Teagasc’s commitment to the horticulture sector.
The VistaMilk SFI Research Centre – a collaboration between agri-food and ICT research institutes and leading Irish/multinational food and ICT companies – was set up in 2018.
The centre is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Department of Agriculture; under the directorship of Prof. Donagh Berry, it is hosted by Teagasc.
Research and Knowledge Transfer
The national network of 240 Teagasc advisors served almost 43,000 farmer clients in 2018.
There were 18,507 Teagasc profit monitors completed in total during 2018.
The authority noted that last year was a particularly successful year in terms of research funding, with Teagasc securing €6.3 million in new EU funding from Horizon 2020, through a competitive process.
Teagasc has reached its target of €19 million from Horizon 2020 with two years still remaining.