Changes are set to be made to the Knowledge Transfer Scheme, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Speaking following a meeting on the topic of the scheme with the Department of Agriculture, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy said that the changes to the Knowledge Transfer Programme to make it more workable must be followed by reduced red tape for the commencement of the second year of the programme and the removal of the “unnecessary” veterinary charge.

According to the IFA, there are three confirmed changes agreed upon for the second year of the programme.

Firstly, farmers will be allowed to attend two events as opposed to one – meaning farmers will now have the option of four meetings with one event, or three meetings with two events.

Secondly, the minimum 60% participation rate for meetings will be abolished, while lastly, further training of facilitators will be put in place to improve the content of the programme.

Kennedy called for the veterinary involvement to be clarified and the veterinary charging regime to be abolished.

On the topic of Knowledge Transfer payments, the department confirmed to the IFA that payments will commence at the end of October for the first year of the programme.

About 18,400 farmers have either fully or partly completed their first year farm plan out of a total participation rate of 19,100.

The IFA estimates that farmers are due more than €14 million in payments for participation in the scheme. Knowledge Transfer facilitators will not be paid until they provide proof that farmers have been paid, the organisation says.

The IFA has also called for clarification on the charging regime, particularly for non-clients. Kennedy said that double charging of farmers is totally unacceptable and the IFA will again be taking this matter up with Teagasc.

Kennedy concluded by for an ongoing review of the Knowledge Transfer programme, saying it is important that the scheme has a positive impact on farm income.