Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied Teagasc is and will be sufficiently resourced to deliver adequate research and advisory services for the tillage sector considering the demands placed on it by the new EU greening requirements; and if he will provide a breakdown of Teagasc staff currently dedicated to tillage farming by advisory region.
REPLY (Minister Simon Coveney)
Whilst the moratorium impacted on staff levels, Teagasc retain a complement of over 1,150 staff who deliver research, advisory and education services to the agriculture and food sectors. The distribution of staff is an operational matter for Teagasc.
In light of the constraints on recruitment, Teagasc is re-configuring the way in which it delivers services to farmers through greater use of discussion groups and by leveraging more external resources through sub contracting certain activities to private providers. For example, they recently engaged an external strategic partner (FRS) to deliver GLAS planning services to Teagasc clients.
My Department continues to work closely with Teagasc to evaluate requests for mission critical appointments. Over 50 permanent appointments were authorised outside the moratorium since 2009.
A further exception to the moratorium permits Teagasc to recruit ‘non grant in aid’ funded contractors. They currently employ 190 contractors working predominately in research and advisory services. Priority has also been accorded to the recruitment of 20 temporary teachers to meet the exceptional demand for Green Cert courses from young farmers.
It is anticipated that the new Delegated Sanction arrangements may provide greater discretion to Government Departments and state agencies over staffing levels, but strictly within an overall pay framework.
Those arrangements are currently being considered in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform . Within the parameters of that over arching policy, the question of where posts are filled remains an operational matter for Teagasc.