This Thursday, July 14, is the final day farmers have to register with the Department of Agriculture’s Knowledge Transfer Groups.

The deadline had been extended from June 30 to July 14 to allow advisors and farmers further time to finalise arrangements for their Groups, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said last month.

“These Groups will be an important support for farmers in addressing a range of competitiveness and sustainability challenges facing the sector.”

Knowledge Transfer is included under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 and will involve the formation and administration of knowledge transfer groups across a range of sectors, the Department of Agriculture said.

Funding of €100m is allocated under the RDP for Knowledge Transfer Groups across the dairy, beef, equine, sheep, tillage and poultry sectors.

The Groups will be delivered to farmers by qualified facilitators and the first Groups already registered have started their meetings.

Farmers participating in the discussion groups are required to attend five knowledge exchange (group meetings) and/or four meetings plus one Department-approved national event.

Farmers must also 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.

First round of Knowledge Transfer payments expected in June 2017 – Department

Speaking earlier this year, Brendan Gleeson, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, said that the first round of payments to Knowledge Transfer (KT) Groups are expected to commence in June 2017.

Under the three-year programme, farmers will receive an annual payment €750, along with the costs to cover the facilitator/advisor, who runs the group meetings.

“We know from previously nationally funded versions of this measure, that these groups are a tremendously effective way of imparting knowledge and expertise,” Gleeson said.