Knowledge Transfer Groups will be modelled on discussion groups

Teagasc group facilitator Willie Dwyer addresses farmers at the Teagasc farm walk with members of the award-winning Outrath Dairy Discussion Group on Tom Horan's farm in Cashel, Co Tipperary, in 2010.

Key details of the new Knowledge Transfer Groups have been announced.

Knowledge transfer measures are a key part of the new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, and they will be supported across a number of sectors (beef, sheep, dairy, poultry, tillage and equine).

Some 27,000 farmers are expected to participate for three years in knowledge transfer groups in their respective sectors during the period of the programme.

The Department of Agriculture (DAFM) has prioritised the beef, dairy and equine sectors for scheme participation, commencing in July.

It is expected that the initial tranche will be opened to 5,000 dairy and 7,000 beef farmers, with a further 500 in the equine sector. Further tranches will open later this year, with commencement dates in early 2016 planned.

The scheme design has been guided by experiences from previous discussion groups, and builds significantly on the discussion group model, in such a way as to ensure the farmer and advisor engage in one-to-one discussion on key aspects of a farmers’ business such as profitability, environmental sustainability, breeding and herd health.

Each participant will be required to attend at least five knowledge exchange meetings facilitated by a DAFM- approved advisor (four meetings and one national event).

All participants will also be required, following one-to-one discussion with the advisor, to complete a tailored farm improvement plan involving a profit monitor, carbon navigator/sustainability management plan, herd health plan (in conjunction with a veterinarian), and a breeding plan.

Additionally, over the period of the programme, advisors will be required to hold one meeting on health and safety with a recognised expert in attendance and a further meeting with a qualified veterinary practitioner in attendance.

Participating farmers will be paid a total of €750 annually for each of the three years they successfully complete.

The payment to the advisor will be €500 per farmer per year, paid directly by DAFM to individual advisors.

Approved advisors will notify DAFM of the composition of groups — essentially the same process used under the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) and the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP), whereby advisors notified DAFM of the group composition.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has urged advisors wishing to participate to register their interest by using the online facility which is available on the department’s website.


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