By Seán Doorley
*Seán Doorley (BAgSc (Hons), MAgrSc) is Business and Technology Adviser, Teagasc, Longford
Young Roscommon and Longford farmers have three options available to them by which they can complete their Green Cert. All three options lead to similar results and benefits for the young trained farmer. Two of these three options will be available locally in the Roscommon/Longford Teagasc Unit this spring and autumn, and the third option can be accessed from our two nearest agricultural colleges – Mountbellew, Co. Galway, and Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan.
The three options are outlined below, starting with the choices most suitable to a young school leaver, right up to the choices facing aspiring students in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. The most important thing to remember is that there is a route for everyone, and the education staff in the Roscommon/Longford Teagasc Unit are always available to guide you in your choices.
The first option is offered on a full-time basis in agricultural colleges. Students must be seventeen years of age or over on January 1st following entry to the course. This course is most suitable for school leavers and it would be desirable, but not essential, to have completed the Leaving Cert cycle in secondary school. The course runs over two years, with a combination of formal course work and a period of practical learning experience. This course is also suitable for young people seeking employment on farms.
Applications can be made directly to the colleges or by using the online application via teagasc.ie. If applying online, you can apply for a number of colleges using the preference system. There is a means-tested Teagasc grant scheme associated with this option, and for more information on this, check directly with the college in question.
The second option is called The Teagasc Part Time Green Cert, and will on offer in the Roscommon/Longford Teagasc Unit this autumn, 2022. Applicants must be over 23 years of age when starting this course, and there is no upper age limit applicable. It is desirable, but not essential, to have completed the Leaving Cert cycle in secondary school. Students must have access to a working farm including the financial details of the same farm. The course duration will be approximately two years on a part-time basis, generally one day per week from September to April. The course work is split between practical/skills training and classroom sessions. The course consists of a range of modules such as farm business, principles of agriculture, farm safety, farm enterprise production, safe use of pesticides etc.
Students interested in taking this route to a Green Cert should contact Therese Hilliard in the Longford Teagasc Office on 043 3341021 to put their name on the expression of interest list.
The third option is called The Teagasc Distance Education Green Cert (for Non-Agricultural Award Holders). This option will also be available in the Roscommon/Longford Teagasc Unit, commencing on May 6th, 2022. Applicants for this course must have obtained a Level 6 or higher major award in a non-agricultural discipline. In recent years, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, nurses and engineers have all been able to avail of this express option. This part-time option extends over a period of 15-18 months incorporating at least 27 contact days, roughly two per month.
The course work covered is the same as that in the routes/options above, but the main difference is that students opting for this route will be doing a ‘fast forward’ type of course. The shorter time span is based on the assumption that students with previous college experience are capable of working on their own initiative to meet the tighter deadlines. Students interested in taking Green Cert Route 3 should contact Caitríona Corcoran or Catherine Divilly in the Roscommon Teagasc Office on 090 6626166 for an application pack as soon as possible.
The Teagasc Green Cert is well known as the course many people starting up in farming complete. While young people are not prohibited from entering farming without it or its equivalent, there are a number of attractive benefits that can be obtained by the young trained farmer. So what are these benefits, and why is there such a demand for the Teagasc Green Cert?
There are educational requirements for certain Department of Agriculture and Revenue schemes. More often than not these schemes will be of financial benefit to the young trained farmer. Some of these include Revenue schemes like stamp duty relief and agricultural stock relief, and DAFM schemes like Entrant in a Registered Farm Partnership, the TAMS Scheme (60% grant), the National Reserve, and the Young Farmers Scheme (25% top up).
The QQI Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration (Teagasc Green Cert) is the minimum requirement for all of the above schemes. The DAFM trend in recent years requires applicants to have the course completed at the time of application for the various incentives. With a new CAP package presently being negotiated in Brussels for 2023, it would be a shrewd move for young farmers to start planning their training now so they will be in a position to maximise their benefits under whatever CAP 2023 has to offer this cohort.