Payments under the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP) will begin issuing to successful participants in the coming days.

The total budget for this Programme in 2015 is €3 million, with an individual payment rate of €825.

Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, announcing the payment said he is encouraged at the level of commitment shown by the farmers concerned, with some 3,000 farmers successfully completing the 2015 programme.

“I am pleased to see that these payments are now beginning to issue to the farmers concerned,” the Minister said, adding ‘the benefits of this Programme accrue not just to the individual farmers participating but also to the farming sector concerned’.

The Minister stated that the continuing participation in such knowledge transfer initiatives can only help to further develop the skills base of farmers and thus feed into increased competitiveness and growth in the agri-food sector.

New discussion groups in 2016

Building on the success of the Discussion Group model, the new Rural Development Programme (2014-2020) includes support for the setting up of new Knowledge Transfer Groups across the beef, dairy, sheep, equine, tillage and poultry sectors.

Arrangements are now being finalised for the launch of the first tranche of Knowledge Transfer Groups early in 2016.

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 farmers are expected to pay directly for the animal health measures component.