By Gordon Deegan

The numbers employed at Teagasc earning over €100,000 last year increased by 11 to 66, compared with 2019.

That is according to the 2020 Teagasc Annual Report, which shows that four members of staff earned between €160,000 and €170,000.

The report shows that five staff earned between €120,000 and €130,000 with 22 earning between €110,000 and €120,000.

A further 35 earned between €100,000 and €110,000.

The salaries of staff at all grades have been gradually restored since 2017, including the salaries of senior management, after the cuts imposed as a result of financial emergency measures introduced by government between 2009 and 2015.

Numbers employed by Teagasc during 2020 increased from 1,258 to 1,290 and pay costs increased from €71.25 million to €74.12 million.

Pay to key management personnel totalled €744,000, while the director of Teagasc, Prof. Gerry Boyle received €167,000 in basic pay.

The financial statements also disclose that Teagasc’s spend on legal costs and settlements concerning legal proceedings decreased from €227,000 in 2019 to €151,000 last year.

The breakdown shows that €12,000 was spent on legal fees along with an additional €139,000 on 23 separate settlements.

The accounts also disclose that Teagasc’s spend on consultancy costs declined from €1.62 million in 2019 to €1.29 million last year.

This includes €391,000 on architectural and engineering services; €351,000 on research advice; €258,000 on ‘other’; €186,000 on legal advice; €87,000 on pensions/human resources; and €25,000 on financial/tax advice.

The agency last year recorded a pre-tax surplus of €2.62m and this followed a pre-tax deficit of €76,000 in 2019.

Teagasc’s total income reduced from €191.37 million to €189.58 million last year and its total spend reduced from €185.68 million to €179.38 million.

The bulk of Teagasc’s income came through a €152.52 million grant from government. The agency also generated €33.88 million in operational income.

€10 Agri-food dairy knowledge transfer
Moorepark. Image: Teagasc

The agency recorded an operational surplus of €10.19 million before €7.5 million was transferred to a capital account.

In a note concerning procurement, the report states that “in 2020 Teagasc found that of 232 purchase orders, those relating to four suppliers were non-compliant and the value of non-compliant purchase orders was €166,180”.

The report later states: “Notwithstanding that these procurements were non-compliant Teagasc is satisfied that they achieved good value for money.”

The report also states that Teagasc exceeded its pay ceiling of €67.8 million by €967,000 in 2020.

A note states that “recent changes to retirement rules resulted in many staff deferring retirement and, with recruitment commitments made in advance of the notification of the ceiling, an over-run began to materialise”.

The note states that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine agreed some flexibility to ensure services could be maintained, having regard to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and continued to approve recruitment for critical frontline posts and provide for key promotions to management grades in 2020.

The note states: “A more restricted recruitment schedule is implemented by management pending confirmation of the delegated sanction pay ceiling for 2021.”