Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Questions (81)

Colm Keaveney


81. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine why he allowed Teagasc to lease more land to Dawn Meats and Dawn Farm Foods at Mellows campus in Athenry, County Galway; the purpose of this lease; the amount of land leased; the annual income for Teagasc from these arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3341/16]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The development and operation of the Suckler Beef Demonstration farm in Athenry is an operational matter for Teagasc and its governing Authority, which is representative of the main stakeholder groups in the agri-food sector including the farm organisations.

The farm was developed to demonstrate a profitable suckler to beef system in terms of economic, environmental and animal welfare sustainability while setting new benchmarks for animal performance. It is similar to the Kilkenny Greenfield dairy demonstration farm, which annually attracts large numbers of farmers and discussion groups.

I am informed that Teagasc and the company in question operate the Suckler Beef Demonstration farm in Athenry under a shared farming agreement. Teagasc has not leased any land in Athenry to the company for the purposes of the demonstration farm. Teagasc’s main role is to provide expert advice and to analyse and disseminate financial and animal performance with the aim of demonstrating to farmers, the profit that can be obtained from a well run suckler beef farm.

Teagasc is satisfied that this is a public good initiative, and the farm will provide very valuable information to all beef farmers and will be a major focal point for discussion groups. It is anticipated that the information will be of significant help to those producers who are planning a long term future in profitable, low-cost beef production.