Wednesday 28 September 2016

Advisors threaten to boycott €100m scheme

Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30

Teagasc advisors have threatened to withdraw from the Knowledge Transfer groups scheme unless the Department addresses their concerns about the administration of the scheme.

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In a letter seen by the  Farming Independent the Irish Agricultural Advisory and Training Service (IAATS) union has written to the head of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle, outlining six key problems with the scheme.

Funding of €100m has been set aside by the Government under the Rural Development Programme for 27,000 farmers to take part in the programme over three years.

“We expect senior management of Teagasc to consult with the Department to get the current problems sorted otherwise as an advisory body we will not be involved,” a spokesman for the IAATS union representing the farm advisors warned.

The spokesman said many advisors held valid concerns over the potential financial administration of the scheme and warned that  advisors will not use their personal bank accounts for the scheme.

Unlike other schemes where payments were administered  by the Department of Agriculture, under this scheme the monies will be distributed by the facilitators.

“If a stream of money starts to come into your account then Revenue may have questions for you,” said the spokesman.

He also raised privacy concerns as advisors have been asked to log in to the system with their own PPS numbers attached and details may then be accessible if they share access to a herd number with a family member. “The log in system must be similar to that used for the single payment scheme or GLAS,” he said. The current format means office administration staff cannot help with paperwork.

The facilitators are also seeking confirmation that the indemnity rests with Teagasc and acknowledgment they will only act as agents of the agricultural body. In addition, they argue the entry system does not properly weight experience of advisors.

The union has instructed advisors not to engage with the scheme until these issues are resolved.

Farm bodies have also warned they feel the scheme is getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

Indo Farming

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