Dáil Éireann - Volume 387 - 28 February, 1989

Written Answers. - Agricultural Advisers.

37. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of agricultural advisers operating on the field for each year over the past four years; and if he is concerned that the new charging scheme introduced by Teagasc will have the effect of concentrating advisory resources on farmers who can [1630] afford to pay and not on those who need it most.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The numbers of agricultural advisers in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 were, respectively 502, 489, 425 and 369.

The current level of charges for advisory services is considered reasonable and the system is so structured that no farmer seeking advice is denied service because of inability to pay.

Teagasc attaches major importance to the provision of an effective service for small producers and a special programme is now being drawn up for such producers to enable them increase their income levels through agriculture and other commercial activities.

In addition, Teagasc provides a free basic information service at office level to all farmers.