The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s knowledge Transfer Groups programme starts this autumn.

In its latest advisory notes to farmers this month, Teagasc put together a handy explainer for the programme.

The new programme, which runs for three years, follows on from previous discussion groups programmes but with a few notable differences, according to Teagasc.

It says however that the focus remains on profitability, breeding, animal health and environmental sustainability.

If you are a farmer who is going to participate in the discussion groups programme you will be required to:

  • Attend five knowledge exchange (group) meetings and/or four meetings plus one Department-approved national event.
  • Complete a farm improvement plan in year one in conjunction with their facilitator/advisor – this plan will continue to be updated in years two and three of the programme.
  • 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.

Teagasc says that the farm improvement programme will require farmers to complete a profit monitor, a breeding plan and/or a grassland plan or carbon navigator.

If a farmer is already in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, then they will have completed a carbon navigator so the grassland plan will apply, according to Teagasc.

Farmers will receive €750 per year as part of the programme, which will run for three years.

The programme will also cover the costs of the facilitator/advisor, but Teagasc do note that farmers are expected to pay directly for the animal health measures component.

It is likely that up to 600 beef groups will take part in the first three years of the programme and it said it’s expected that a new sheep knowledge transfer programme will start in early 2016 because the current one does not end until this October.

Mixed beef and sheep farmers will have to decide whether to opt for a beef or sheep group, as under the new programme farmers cannot participate in both, according to Teagasc.

If you are in an existing group, or want to join a group and participate in the new programme, you should contact your advisor/facilitator this month, as they will be looking to finalise group details, it said.