Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Knowledge transfer' and consultancy to benefit from €20m/yr of Pillar II funding

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Farm advisory services are set to share the spoils of the €580m annual rural development fund in Pillar II, through a €20m allocation for "knowledge transfer".

While this funding is theoretically broken down into four separate categories - European innovation partnerships, knowledge transfer groups, continued professional development and targeted advisory services - the money will effectively be spent on discussion groups and workshops aimed at delivering all the elements of the new CAP.

Existing discussion group schemes such as those operating in the beef and sheep sector will continue to benefit.

But the Department have prioritised dairying, especially groups comprised of "dairy expanders and new entrants" for funding.

These are followed by beef and sheep, tillage, pigs and poultry, water quality, biodiversity and equine, in that order.

Vets are also likely to see a bigger draw on their expertise with a new aim to carry out more than 5,000 farm visits every year to improve animal health and welfare.

The dairy and beef sectors will be the beneficiaries of this initiative, which will be designed to upskill farmers on dealing with mastitis, Johnes and BVD.

The target is to get advisors out to 10pc or 1,800 dairy farms annually to help farmers reduce somatic cell counts. A further 1,500 farmers will be targeted with site visits to assess Johne's risk, while another 1,950 suckler and dairy herds will be visited in relation to BVD control.

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The farmers will be expected to sign-off on an action plan with specific "actionable" recommendations by the end of these visits. In addition to the extra activity that the knowledge transfer objectives will open up to agricultural advisory bodies, there will be funding for training advisors in best practice at farm level.

Irish Independent