Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, is the national body providing independent and integrated advisory, education and research services to the farmers, food industry, and rural communities of West Cork.
There are three advisory offices in West Cork, namely in Clonakilty, Macroom and Skibbereen in addition to three advisory clinics in Adrigole, Bandon and Dunmanway, to facilitate meeting farmers locally.
The Teagasc advisory team in West Cork have continued to support farmers, both clients and non-clients, with advisory services in line with HSE advice during this continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Scheme work has been busy and has included supporting farmers with their Basic Payment Scheme, ANC, TAMS, BGDP, BEAM, BEEP and the new Beef Finisher Scheme. Advisors have also helped many farmers with Pearl Mussel and Hen Harrier area with their annual plans.
All the advisors in Macroom offer a technical advisory service in dairy, beef, sheep and tillage to help farmers to improve the technical efficiency which drives farm profit and sustainability. They are supported by independent researchers and specialists.
Teagasc Regional Manager in West Cork, Thomas Curran, says that many farmers were greatly affected by the pandemic but despite the restrictions, Teagasc staff continued to support farmers
Within the Macroom office, there are two dairy advisors and two drystock advisors, as well as other staff members. Patrick Flannery is the education officer who co-ordinates the part-time Level 5 and Level 6 Certificate in Farming courses in collaboration with Clonakilty Agricultural College, Grainne Hurley is the coordinator of the Teagasc Dairygold Joint Programme, Michael Gottstein is Teagasc’s Head of Sheep Knowledge Transfer Programme, while Margaret O’Donovan coordinates all the office activities.
Ciara O’Shea and Seamus Lordan are the dairy advisors in Macroom. Seamus also focuses on rural development and advises farmers on how they can develop alternative income streams in various ways including converting to organic farming, developing a tourism business or artisan food production.
Aine O’Riordan is a drystock and organic farming advisor, while Anthony Dineen is the other drystock advisor and looks after farm safety. Aine and Anthony both work on the hen harrier scheme, working to preserve the habitat of this bird in the Macroom area.
The advisory team in Macroom also provide expert advice on Business planning and Succession and Inheritance matters. They are supported by their Regional Manager, Thomas Curran with his expertise in Farm Partnership Formation and Succession and Inheritance.
Teagasc Regional Manager in West Cork, Thomas Curran, says that many farmers were greatly affected by the pandemic but despite the restrictions, Teagasc staff continued to support farmers throughout the year through phone contact, zoom meetings and also in a specially installed bio-secure workspace for face to face meetings. From July onwards, HSE advice allowed discussion groups to meet on farm in a socially distant manner and both discussion groups and individual farm visits have been on-going since.
‘Covid-19 exasperated isolation for many farmers. They were very busy on the farm, marts were closed, local social centres such as pubs were closed and community activities were not happening. For many farmers, Teagasc couldn’t hold face-to-face discussion groups or public meetings or farm walks’.
‘It was important for us to keep in regular contact with farmers, so discussion groups were continued by phone initially. When restrictions allowed, outdoor discussion group meetings and farm visits resumed in line with HSE advice. We have started doing virtual farm walks and we encourage farmers to log into these for valuable technical updates while the pandemic is on-going, adds Thomas.
Despite the hardships of the year, prices for milk, beef and lamb have held up, and although price predictions are modest, the grain yields in West Cork have been good this year.
Teagasc in Cork West provides a very wide range of practical, financial, technical and environmental advice and training opportunities for farming and farm family members. By becoming a client of Teagasc and participating actively in its programmes you will be in a position to avail of opportunities to grow your farm business.
For more information about the services provided, visit www.teagasc.ie/about/farm-advisory/advisory-regions/cork-west/