It is crucial that Ireland’s farm advisory services are all pulling in the one direction, outgoing Agricultural Consultants Association president Tom Canning has said.
He told the Irish Farmers Journal following the ACA AGM last week that the ACA and Teagasc were like a disunited league of nations.
“I said a few years ago that we were a disunited league of nations. A key element of what we’ve tried to do in my presidency is to get our own members working together firstly, and secondly to establish a very strong relationship between ourselves and Teagasc.
“We have committed to looking at establishing a memorandum of understanding of the way that both of our organisations operate,” he said.
On the new CAP schemes which lie ahead for farmers in 2023, he said advisers can get out and advise farmers earlier this time around.
“Compared to the old GLAS scheme, we were very strongly confined with the tranche system, we had very limited time to get out there and discuss the options with farmers.
“We can now better advise farmers on the options that will suit their particular farms,” he said.
Following Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s address to the AGM, Canning made some suggestions in relation to making life easier for both adviser and farmer.
Minister McConalogue urged that farmers ensure they have enough fodder for next winter in order to mitigate the potential supply disruptions to grain.
Canning said following the address: “We are hearing about restrictions of the allocation of fertiliser to individual merchants, and rumours of very strong price increases again next week.”
He said that one of the key ways of ensuring farmers receive good advice and are as efficient as possible, is through the Agri-Environment Training Scheme (AETS).
However, Canning also said that farmers found the method of application in AETS “cumbersome”.
Given how critical the situation is now, he said advisers should be given access to apply on behalf of farmers.
“I think it is important to get the information to as many farmers on a one-to-one basis, both in the field and in the classroom,” he said.