Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Knowledge Transfer scheme extended by two months

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed Picture: Jason Clarke
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed Picture: Jason Clarke

The Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for the Knowledge Transfer scheme by two months after it was mired by computer system difficulties.

Facilitators and farm advisors have been finding it difficult to log on to the farm improvement system. It is understood the department will extend the deadline from May 31 to July 31 to allow facilitators the maximum amount of time to upload the applications.

Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice had warned if the scheme was not extended, there would be a "huge fall off" in the numbers of farmers leaving the scheme.

One KT group facilitator in the west of country described the system as a "disaster". The facilitator logged in on separate occasions only to open three different facilitators accounts with all the information on farmers taking part visible.

The department stated it was currently investigating reports from a small number of facilitators regarding difficulties with the online system. "The online system has been suspended pending the outcome of this investigation which is expected shortly," it stated.

Facilitators also pointed out the information has to be taken down by hand and transferred into the different systems from the Teagasc system to the ICBF system.

"It is an impossible situation. More investment is needed in software at Department level."

There have been farmers pulling out due to the amount of paperwork involved and the requirement for herd health plans. The advisor pointed out drystock farmers were getting €750 a year but were being quoted anything from €40 to €320 for health plans.

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"So they will be down a minimum of €100 ," the facilitator said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has clarified that the inclusion of the 2018 unit value of farmer BPS entitlements on the "online" application is for information purposes only. It stated the 2017 sum was being paid.

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