The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has confirmed that the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme payments will not be held up as a result of the extension to the deadline for Farm Improvement Plans to be submitted.
IFA rural development chairman Joe Brady has confirmed the payments will be made within three months of July 31, in line with the Charter of Rights Commitment. Therefore, IFA expect payments to commence to farmers towards the end of October. Around 20,000 farmers will be paid €750 each through their facilitator, with payments totalling €15m.
IFA has called for greater flexibility in the KT Programme and a reduction in the bureaucratic and administrative difficulties that have bogged down the programme to date. IFA proposals include: a reduction in the administrative burden; the abolition of veterinary fees; the replacement of the veterinary plan by the use of faecal sampling; flexibility in the timing of meetings to include weekends and later than 8pm; relaxation of the 60% final meeting attendance rule; and an increase in the number of events from one to two and a corresponding reduction in meetings.
In order to improve the standard of facilitators, the IFA has said there is a need for continuous professional development. The IFA has also said that the KT programme should be reopened to new groups and an increase in the maximum number in a group should be considered in certain instances. Where farmers drop out of a KT, the IFA says they should be allowed to be replaced and payments of KT must be made within two months of the end of the contract year.