Deadline extension for KT participants ‘cannot lead to late payments’

The deadline extension handed to Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme participants cannot lead to late payments, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

KT participants were given an extra three weeks to submit Farm Improvement Plans (FIPs), the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, revealed yesterday (July 24).

Minister Creed also hoped that the extension would enable vets to finalise Animal Health Measures for farmer participants.

This announcement was welcomed by the ICSA’s Rural Development Chairman, Seamus Sherlock, but he cautioned that this cannot be allowed to delay payments to farmers.

The ICSA insists that the €750 payment must be delivered on time. While the extension is welcome, it cannot be allowed to provide an excuse for late payments.

KT participants were also reminded that the deadline of July 31 for holding meetings of KT Groups remains in place. This is the second time that the deadline for the submission of FIPs has been extended – the original deadline was May 31.

Last week, AgriLand revealed that close to 85% of KT Programme participants had yet to complete their FIPs – with the July 31 deadline fast approaching (at the time).

On Wednesday, July 19, a total of 3,183 FIPs had been completed by participants, according to figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; another 8,006 were in progress.

This would have left approximately 8,000 KT participants who had yet to begin submitting their FIP.

Are schemes becoming too complex?

Meanwhile, the extension demonstrates again that schemes are being devised which are far too complex for the payments involved, Sherlock said.

He believes that there is not enough thought about whether advisors or department resources are able to meet the challenges of actually delivering results.

“The Knowledge Transfer Scheme is a particularly bad, case in point, where a mediocre payment of €750 is involved.

In order to get this, the farmer must attend meetings, pay up to €200 for a herd health plan and typically up to €300 for a planner/advisor.

“Yet it is now clear that planners and vets are struggling to meet deadlines and we will soon see if the department has resolved the debacle that applied to GLAS last year,” Sherlock concluded.