Teagasc ‘looks forward’ to formal relationship with ACA

A representative for Teagasc has said that the organisation is looking forward to formalising its working relationship with the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) through a memorandum of understanding.

Speaking at a sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in December, Dr. Tom Kelly outlined the past working relationship between the two groups, and how this might be improved in the future.

Dr. Kelly referenced a report released last year by economist Jim Power, which provided a review of the state of agricultural services in Ireland.

A report by Mr. Jim Power was launched recently. One of the recommendations was for us [Teagasc and the ACA] to formalise our working relationships through a memorandum of understanding.

“We are very open to that and we look forward to agreeing that memorandum. We hope to have the opportunity to work with the ACA,” Dr. Kelly outlined.

He added: “Its members reach a large clientele that we cannot reach with our current staff numbers. They are needed, and we feel obligated to support them fully.”

Commenting on the past and present relationship between the two organisations, Dr. Kelly noted: “We have an ongoing relationship with the ACA in that we still buy services from private consultants. They also buy services from us.”

He also outlined that Teagasc has shared information with both the ACA and private consultants who are not members of the association.

Continuing, Dr. Kelly explained: “Individually, we have working relationships at local level and at national level. For about the first six years of my 10 years in this job we had a very good relationship.

“However, the ACA is a voluntary organisation. It is an NGO [non-governmental organisation] that appoints a president every year or every second year, so we find it quite difficult to have a continuous relationship with it. Depending on who is in office, we may work very well with them or we may not,” he added.

At the time the report was released in October, its author, Jim Power, told AgriLand that it was important for Teagasc to collaborate with private advisors in the sharing of information.

I interviewed people on both sides of the fence, and you certainly get the impression that they compete with each other rather than being collaborators.

“I would hope that one thing that comes out of my report is that providing top-quality advisory services to farmers is essential. It doesn’t matter if it comes in the private sector or the public sector. It has to be of the highest quality possible,” Power pointed out.