The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) are calling on the Minister and the Department to review the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme. Speaking on this INHFA National Chair Pheilim Molloy detailed how the KT Programme has come in for major criticism from farmers frustrated with regard to access and the conditionality around the scheme.
Access to the Scheme is Molloy stated “dependent on your Farm Advisor applying and being accepted as a facilitator by the Department of Agriculture. If your Farm Advisor hasn’t applied or been accepted, then you won’t be able to join the scheme.” This Molloy added “is blatantly unfair and must be changed.”
Over the last number of weeks this issue has, he stated “featured at meetings and we are seeing an increasing number of calls to our office relating to this. Farmers that have been shut out are rightfully annoyed and demanding action.”
Another issue that has featured is the increase in the number of meetings required in order to meet the payment requirements. In the previous KT Programme farmers were expected to attend five meetings or events but in the current programme this has increased to eight.
On this the INHFA Chair outlined “how farmers are now expected to do more for the same payment which is effectively reduction in pay. This wouldn’t be tolerated in any other sector so we have to ask the question as to why is this ok for farmers to take such a cut?”
Molloy concluded by detailing how there continues to be mixed views around the KT Programme. There is, he stated” a high level of resentment with some farmers around the payment rates which hasn’t been helped by increasing the attendance requirements. What we need is for the Minister to consider at a minimum a pro-rata increase to the payment rates to acknowledge the increased attendance requirement.”