Teagasc was established in 1998 under the Agricultural Research Training and Advice Act. It took over the functions of An Foras Taluntais and ACOT, the agricultural training body. Teagasc was established as the Agriculture and Food Development Authority. It united the advisory training and research functions.
Teagasc has a staff of over 1200 persons, operates in 52 locations and has a budget of over €150 million. Three-quarters of the budget is provided by the Irish exchequer and the EU, with the balance coming from earned income. The funding of the authority is provided under the National Development Plan, fees for research, advisory and training services, revenue from farming activities and commodity levies.
40% of the budget is devoted to research and the remainder is split between advisory and education services, 30% each. Research services are provided by 120 research scientists, 120 research technicians and 30 specialists at seven centres.
Teagasc has over 250 advisors, at county and local offices. There are eight colleges and local training research centres which are staffed by lecturers, technicians and education officers.
The authority has a number of subcommittees including the research committee and the advisory/education committee.
The function of Teagasc is to provide and procure the provision of education, training and advisory services in agriculture. It seeks to obtain and make available to the agricultural industry, the scientific and practical information required by it in relation to agriculture. It seeks to undertake, promote, co-ordinate and renew agricultural research and development including research and development include processing and food processing industries.
Teargas’s functions may be expanded with Ministerial consent. Ministerial consent is required for the performance of functions outside the State. The minister may confer additional functions on Teagasc by orders. This may arise under domestic or EU legislation.
Teagasc or its subsidiaries may charge as it considers appropriate for its functions and the services provided by it. It may carry on activities and sell products for such prices as it considers appropriate. It may develop and exploit the results of its research and development.
The level of charges is determined by Teagasc or its subsidiary. Charges, prices and payments in respect of functions performed, services provided, or activities done outside the State must not be less than the cost of the performance of the service or function, without Ministerial consent. Sums payable are recoverable by the Minister as a debt.
A director is responsible for the administration and business of Teagasc. He is to hold office on terms approved by the Minister for Agriculture with the consent of the Department of Finance. He is to be a whole-time director and is not to hold any other office.
There is provisions for the appointment of Teagasc staff, terms of employment and superannuation schemes etc. Much the same terms that apply to bodies of this nature. The Minister may advance money to Teagasc out of monies provided by the Oireachtas for expenditure by Teagasc on the performance of its functions. Teagasc is to return its accounts to the Minister for Agriculture.
The Minister may give directions to Teagasc
- requiring it to provide specified services
- to carry on specified services,
- to refrain from providing specified services or activities.
- to incur expenditure of a specified amount
- to refrain from incurring expenditure
- to refrain from making charges for specified services or to
- make variations of the charge.
Teagasc also took over the liabilities of the county Committees of Agriculture established under the Agricultural Act 1931 and affiliated with local authorities.
Key Areas and Programmes
The main areas of operation of Teagasc are
- research in food, agriculture, horticulture and rural development.
- advice and knowledge transfer to the farming community.
- education and training service for farmers and food producers.
There are a number of key programs.
- agricultural production and grassland.
- crops environment and land use.
- rural environment and development.
- education and training.
Teagasc’s advisory services seek to maximise income and sustainable farm families within rural communities through the implementation of programs. They include the business and technology program. This program spearheads the campaign to increase the competitiveness of Irish agriculture. The key components include
- the increased use of financial and business tools,
- discussion groups,
- monitor farms,
- industry joint programs,
- focused farm business,
- business and technology training for adult farmers.
The program is focused on business management and the uptake of technology.
The environment and technology program seeks sustainable systems of agriculture. It supports sustainable farming through
- the provision of environmental services,
- nutrient management,
- planning services and transfer of environmental technologies from research.
- contributing to the national water quality and climate change objectives,
- delivering fertiliser planning services,
- providing REPS support services to farmers.
The rural innovation program gives advice on alternative enterprises and businesses including
- artisan food,
- organic family farming,
- rural tourism,
- sports horse production,
- deer production,
- free-range poultry,
- goats farming.
The service is designed to assist persons in rural areas to start their own business, including training and mentoring services and assistance in finance, business planning, marketing and public relations.
Training & Education
There are Teagasc advisory officers in most counties. Income is charged for some advisory services and covers 60% of the cost.
Teagasc provides a range of training options for young entrants, farmers, rural entrepreneurs and executives and operatives in the food industry. It has over 200 teachers and trainers. More than 10,000 persons attend Teagasc courses annually.
The adult training and lifelong learning program emphasise environmental protection food safety and animal welfare. It emphasises the need to keep abreast of production and management technology. Training is carried out in several colleges including
- Clonakilty Agricultural College,
- Kildalton Agricultural and Horticultural College, Piltown, Kilkenny,
- Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Cavan
- College of Amenity Horticulture, Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.