Following a positive meeting with the Director of Teagasc Gerry Boyle last week, IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman James Murphy said Teagasc has committed to strongly renewing their commitment to the sheep sector and providing a much improved and focused Advisory and Research Programme which will deliver for the sheep sector going forward.
On the Advisory side, James Murphy said Teagasc will increase the number of sheep farms in the Better Farm Programme from 6 to 10 and use this model to improve the adoption of technology to a much larger group of sheep farmers.
The sheep farmers’ leader said IFA highlighted the success of the Discussion Group concept in other areas and Teagasc agreed to support a sheep efficiency type programme with groups. IFA also highlighted the need for another sheep specialist. Teagasc agreed the need for a B and T advisor specialising in sheep in each of their 12 AMU areas.
James Murphy said there is a real challenge for Teagasc to provide a practical blueprint which will deliver a gross margin of €1,000/ha on sheep farms. He said Teagasc has agreed to set up a major new sheep demonstration farm in Athenry Co. Galway this year, which will become the flag ship for the sector. In addition, two new sheep researchers have been retained recently to work on the important areas of grassland and genetics.
James Murphy said Gerry Boyle has also agreed to improve and increase the role of the Sheep Stakeholder Group in driving the Advisory and Research Programme in the future. “This is very important as Teagasc work must be driven by the practical requirements of the sheep sector and be clearly focused on delivery at farm level.”
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said he welcomed the proposal from Teagasc to work closely with Sheep Ireland (ICBF) to develop and deliver the full genetic gain potential from improved breeding for the sheep sector.
James Murphy said the Irish sheep sector which is valued at over €300m has major growth potential and with a renewed and strongly focused Sheep Programme, Teagasc has a very important role to play in delivering on that potential.