5 key differences in the new discussion group scheme

Under the provisions of the new Rural Development Programme Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups across a range of sectors, including beef, dairy and sheep, will be established.

The design of the measure has been informed by experience from previous discussion groups, extensive stakeholder consultation, and the relevant EU regulations.

1.Farm Improvement Plan

Participants are required to complete a Farm Improvement Plan.

Each participant shall complete a Farm Improvement Plan with his/her DAFM approved
Knowledge Transfer facilitator.

The elements of the Farm Improvement Plan shall vary from one sector to another but will consist of some or all of the following elements:

  • E-Profit Monitor must be completed at the start of the Knowledge Transfer Programme and updated on an annual basis.
  • Participants must complete a Teagasc Profit Monitor (or equivalent as approved by DAFM) for the previous production year on the participants’ own farm, as verified by the facilitator.
  • Participants must complete a Breeding Plan in year one and update on an annual
    basis.
  • Participants shall complete a Carbon Navigator/Grassland Management Plan using the Bord Bia online facility or in the case of the Management Plan using DAFMs on-line system.
  • Participants must complete the Farm Health and Safety requirement with their Knowledge Transfer Facilitator in year one and update on an annual basis.
  • Dairy Farmers must participate in a Cell Check Farmer Workshop within the first 18 months of the commencement of the Knowledge Transfer Programme.

2.Five meetings

Attend five knowledge exchange (group) meetings and/or four meetings plus one Department-approved national event.

This compares to the previous discussion groups where participants were required to attend a minimum of five
discussion group meetings or at least three meetings and no more than twi qualifying national events.

3.Animal Health plan

Draw up animal health measures targeting areas such as calf health, biosecurity, etc., in conjunction with an approved vet who has undergone Department training for the programme.

Farmers are expected to pay directly for the animal health measures component which could cost in the region of €150.

4.Payment

In accordance with EU Regulations the facilitator is the beneficiary under the new Knowledge Transfer Programme.

This means the facilitator is responsible for reimbursing the participant in respect of the Knowledge Transfer Programme.

In this regard, the Department will issue the farmer payment to the facilitator upon successful completion of the programme on an annual basis and upon receipt of proof that this has issued to the individual farmer issue the facilitator element.

Participating farmers in the new discussion groups will be paid a total of €750 annually for each of the three years they successfully complete. This funding is based on the standard cost approach recommended by the Commission and represents a 50% increase in payments under BTAP/STAP.

5.Attendance

As currently constituted, participation in more than one of the new discussion groups across sectors is not permitted.

According to Minister Coveney this is largely due to potential double funding which would arise from the completion of more than one Farm Improvement Plan for a single farming enterprise.

However, he has asked his officials to examine how farmers could participate in more than one Knowledge Transfer group across two sectors, while at the same time avoiding double funding issues.

Nominee

The issue of allowing a named nominee to attend the new discussion groups has also been raised and, following on from further consideration of this issue, the Department has said an appropriate named nominee will now be allowed to attend meetings in the place of a farmer participating in a Knowledge Transfer Group.

This would include spouses/partners or children of 18 years or more.

Next Steps

Initially, discussion groups in the Beef, Dairy and Equine sectors are being established. The relevant regulation requires that these Groups and facilitators be evaluated using ranking and selection criteria to ensure the best quality groups are initiated.

This process is ongoing and once completed all candidate facilitators will be notified of the outcome.

Following this, a final list of Knowledge Transfer facilitators and the sectors they have been approved to operate groups under will be published on my Department’s website.

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