Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Teagasc Annual Report 2018: Discussion

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will follow on from the last point made by Deputy Cahill. It is important to ensure the expansion of the dairy sector is done in a way that does not damage the beef sector overall. We must also ensure bull calves from the dairy sector are valuable to the beef chain. Comments have emanated from Teagasc over the last number of months on the amount of policy thought that was given to the expansion of the dairy herd and how expansion would impact on the beef sector. Teagasc indicated that not enough thought was given to the impact of such expansion on the beef sector. I would like to hear the views of Professor Boyle on the matter. What steps must be taken by Teagasc to ensure that the dairy sector positively contributes to the beef sector? How can we ensure that the beef sector remains profitable and a sustainable industry for the people who are purely beef farmers?

A point was made about sexed semen. The science offers potential but progress has been slow in recent years. How does Professor Boyle view that science? What role does it play? How quickly can it play a positive role on the male progeny to come off the dairy herd or the beef progeny to come off the dairy herd?

Teagasc has produced a roadmap on climate change. I ask Professor Boyle to update us on progress. Is enough being done to tackle climate change? How quickly can actions be implemented? Tackling climate change is a big challenge. The roadmap and the marginal abatement cost curve, MACC, produced by Teagasc are very much agreed as being a way forward. However, a massive amount of work must be done to achieve the targets and it is important that the agricultural sector, as a whole, plays its role in that regard.

Teagasc plays an important role in education. The part-time Green Cert course has been subject to delays in the past. What is it like at the moment? Is there a sufficient number of places for the two-year programme?

Finally, the beef sector has been under massive economic and financial pressures in recent years. The beef sector is the largest part of the farming sector. How do we ensure that the beef sector is financially sustainable for farmers into the future? I ask because farmers are questioning themselves whether to continue in the beef sector as a result of what has happened over the last number of years. What is Teagasc's perspective on beef and ensuring there is a margin for farmers?