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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Grey areas' on Knowledge transfer

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.

Concerns have been raised that 'grey areas' remain in the new Knowledge Transfer Schemes.

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Farm bodies have called for clarity ahead of the scheme's July 14 deadline.

The ICSA said that the exact requirements of the herd health plans under the scheme have not been set out, nor the costs.

"It is not clear what is required. Is it a page, two pages, 10 pages and how much does it cover? It is a grey area and overall there will be a big question mark over how much vets will charge or if they'll even want this work," said the ICSA's Eddie Punch, who added that it may be work that vets could take outside their busy seasons.

Mr Punch also highlighted that farmers are receiving €750 for the scheme and all other aspects of it must be affordable.

Concerns have also been raised by Teagasc advisors over the herd health plans and administrative issues with the scheme.

Advisors point out that if an advisor with a Level 9 qualification has to move to a new area and leave their discussion group then they have to be replaced with a person of the same level qualifications.

However, advisors point out some of newer staff taken on by Teagasc may not have the same Level 9 qualifications.

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"This will be very awkward in terms of administration," one advisor said.

Funding of €100m has been set aside under the Rural Development Programme for Knowledge Transfer Groups across the dairy, beef, equine, sheep, tillage and poultry sectors.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said in addition to improving knowledge on best practice and protecting incomes the groups have also been seen to provide a range of social benefits for farmers.

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