Teagasc has lost more than 40 per cent of its advisors over the past five years, along with a substantial number of researchers. This has resulted in the State Agriculture and Food Development Authority linking-up increasingly more with industry stakeholders.

This is according to its director Prof Gerry Boyle, who was speaking at the Teagasc National Beef conference in Kilkenny today.

Speaking on Teagasc’s funding and the upcoming Budget 2014, Boyle told the audience of more than 300 people, 70 per cent of Teagasc’s funding comes directly from the taxpayer and 30 per cent from the industry.

In terms of funding, Boyle outlined that for the past number of years Teagasc has been cutting back on its resources. “We have lost 40 per cent of our advisors in past five years and substantial numbers of researchers,” he said.

Due to these restrictions Teagasc is now increasingly involved with stakeholders in the industry which influences programmes of research activity, he explained. “Our research has to be applied and relevant.”

In his keynote speech, Boyle emphasised the importance of stakeholder involvement in the industry and its continued importance going forward.

“Healthy tension between stakeholders and research is a good thing.” He then cited current examples of this including link-ins with Dawn Meats and ABP Group.

Teagasc’s immediate plan for the beef sector is to replicate the success of the dairy sector both in grassland efficiency and genetic advancement, he said. “There are huge challenges ahead but there not insurmountable.”

He stressed the significant amount of ongoing research in suckler, bull beef and dairy beef production, noting the success of the Better Beef Programme, which is in its 2nd phase and the numbers of farmers involved is now 35.

In conclusion Boyle said he was very optimistic for the future of the beef sector in Ireland. “We can capitalise on what is a tremendous opportunity, if we gear ourselves up properly.”

Pictured Prof Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc