An independent senator has welcomed a full review currently being carried out by Teagasc of its Green Cert farm placement, describing it as “timely”.

Victor Boyhan said that Teagasc must ensure that young trainee farmers have a positive experience when on their host farm placement.

He said that he has heard reports that some trainee farmers are getting a “raw deal” while on their placement.

“Every trainee farmer should be offered regular appraisals of their internship with a Teagasc supervisor to ascertain the level of learning and ensure the placement is not simply repetitive practices or long hours of labour,” Boyhan explained.

“Teagasc has a duty of care to trainee farmers undergoing the Green Cert programme under their stewardship,” the senator continued.

“Therefore, Teagasc must ensure that host farms understand fully the commitment in taking on trainees, including the provision of suitable accommodation, the right to reasonable working hours and conditions – in essence, it’s about fairness and respect for all involved,” he added.

Teagasc review

The state agency has said that it is “committed to the practical learning period as an important component of the training process”.

Teagasc began a full review of the placements, which forms part of the full-time Green Cert course, earlier this year.

Among the expected recommendations will be an increase to the recommended allowance for students and a review of the host farm register.

Senator Boyhan told Agriland that he would be seeking an invitation for Teagasc to come before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, of which he is a member, to discuss its education and training remit.

“The most successful internships are those in which the farmer works alongside interns, teaching and mentoring during daily tasks, passing their skills and experience to aspiring farmers.

“I want to acknowledge the commitment of Teagasc to the Green Cert programme and for its education and training programmes in agriculture, horticulture, food and rural development,” Senator Boyhan said.