The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is demanding that Minister Creed intervenes on behalf of farmers in relation to Teagasc fees for the Knowledge Transfer Program (KT). National President Colm O’Donnell outlined how Teagasc continues to charge farmers for a service that the Department of Agriculture are already paying for.
Currently the Department of Agriculture are paying a total of €1250 for every participant in these KT Groups. Of this €750 is paid to the farmer and all facilitators (including Teagasc) get the remaining €500 for their services. However farmers that were not previous clients of Teagasc but presently in their Groups are seeing membership fee demands for a minimum of €145.
“Of the farmers we have talked to these membership fees were never outlined on the commencement of the program and they only became aware of them well into the program when they received their invoices from Teagasc” stated O’Donnell. He also added “how we understand that Ireland’s EU monitoring committee for the Rural Development Program and other farm organisations have approved this extra costs for non Teagasc clients as part of the KT Program which is very disappointing.”
“Previous statements by the INHFA have requested that Teagasc reviews these fees and we also raised it directly in a meeting with Teagasc CEO Prof Gerry Boyle” added O’Donnell. We would have hoped he continued “that they would see reason and recognise that the €500 fee was more than enough for the service provided. Unfortunately contact from members in recent days has indicated to us that Teagasc are not for turning, which is why we are asking the Minister to intervene and direct Teagasc to wafer these fees and reimburse any farmer that has already paid them.”
O’Donnell concluded by adding “how many farmers especially on the hills are losing confidence in the KT Program as they see a program not suited to their needs with a poor return while facilitators and in particular Teagasc reap the financial rewards.”