Junior Agriculture Minister and Clare T.D. Tony Killeen has confirmed that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has completed an in-depth review of the Crop Variety Evaluation programme.



[ClickPress, Wed Nov 11 2009] Among the key recommendations of the review are restructuring within the Department to reduce costs, greater collaboration with Teagasc, changes to the cereal and grass trialling protocols and introduction of some cost recovery.

As part of Ireland's Statutory obligation under EU Legislation for the marketing of agricultural plant varieties, the Department carries out National List trials on all of the major crops being grown in Ireland including cereals, grasses, oilseed rape and potatoes. In addition to the Statutory function carried out with respect to National List trials, the Department goes a step further and carries out an enhanced programme of Recommended List trials. These trials provide a comprehensive guide for Irish farmers in choosing the most suitable varieties for growing in Ireland.

According to Minister of State Killeen: “The Crop Variety Evaluation work provides an independent service whereby farmers can be confident that the recommended varieties perform well under a wide range of growing conditions. The contribution of improved varieties to increased production of wheat and barley is significant. Today, Ireland is among the highest yield of cereals per hectare in the world.”

The local T.D. noted the importance of exploring every opportunity to make savings, improve efficiencies, and improve the competitiveness of Irish agriculture production through the availability of the best varieties of cereals and grasses.

He added; “Crop variety trialling costs will be reduced by over 20% by amalgamating two Divisions within the Department - Crop Variety Evaluation and Seed Certification Divisions - and redeploying a number of staff to other areas of work. Department officials are in on-going discussions with Teagasc on making changes to both the grass and cereal evaluation protocols."

It is planned to introduce the new protocols in 2010. The grass trials will put greater weighting on grazing reflecting the increasing emphasis on low cost extended grazing systems for dairy and beef production. For cereals, the Department has agreed to include a number of Teagasc BETTER tillage farms as sites for trialling which will facilitate improved knowledge transfer to the commercial cereal growers. The review also recommends a contribution from industry towards the annual costs of providing the service. Charges for crop variety evaluation are in place in other EU Member States. The Department will continue to carry a proportion of the burden of cost.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editor:
- High-resolution images of Tony Killeen, Fianna Fail TD for Clare, and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries and the Marine, may be downloaded from www.dunphyprimages.com
- For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy PR at media@dunphypr.com or 086-8534900

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