The national agri-training body has been operating under a recruitment moratorium since 2009, though the State has made exceptions for “mission critical” posts in recent years.
Several senior personnel have also left Teagasc without replacement being brought in. The new recruitment arrangements will also allow for some promotions, particularly to rebalance the excessive proportion of the lowest grade posts in research and advisory.
Teagasc director Gerry Boyle said: “All advisory vacancies that have arisen in the last year and a number of critical vacancies that have arisen over the past several years can now be filled. Some 20 new frontline advisors will be recruited. This will bring the total number of frontline advisors to 234.
“In education, there will be seven college teachers/education officer posts filled to meet the current spike in demand for education courses.
“In research, key vacancies and new posts can now be filled. This will position Teagasc to intensify its research activity in line with the objectives of Food Wise 2015. In all, 24 research scientists/technologists and three specialists along with other support staff have been identified and will be recruited.
“These include the areas of animal bioscience, dairy nutrition, soil drainage, plant pathology, entomology, nutrient management, meat science, dairy science, sheep specialist, crops, flavour chemistry, computational biology, and others.”
Teagasc chairman Noel Cawley said that 2014 was a good year for most farmers, with dairy farmers having a particularly good year, while winter finishing farms had a difficult time.
Teagasc played a key role during 2014 in promoting efficiencies and optimum approaches to farming. In 2014, it produced some 480 A1 scientific papers and serviced the needs of 43,000 farmer clients.
Teagasc’s new recruitment rules were being unveiled as part of its annual report for 2014 detailing total income of €162.93m, with a net surplus of income over expenditure of €625,000. The reserves balance at the year-end was €9.65m.
During 2014, Teagasc continued to invest in its facilities. Around €2.5m was invested in the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture at the National Botanic Gardens.
Work on a new pig research facility in Moorepark, Fermoy, commenced as did building on new facilities at Ashtown in Dublin.
Work on the Paddy O’Keeffe Innovation Centre for the advancement of Irish Grassland and Dairying in Moorepark was completed and the centre opened.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said: “Teagasc will have the flexibility now to enhance the organisation’s research and ensure the knowledge flows out through its education and advisory activities onto farms and into industry, to help them grasp the growth opportunities that are outlined in the strategy for the sector, Food Wise 2025.
“While the organisation must continue to be guided by the requirements of public policy, and to remain within its overall pay budget, the new delegated sanction arrangements will allow Teagasc to move immediately to fill a significant number of critical vacancies, and to react much more quickly when such vacancies arise in the future.”