There was a data breach involving 759 farmer participants of the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Scheme earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has said.

A statement from the department revealed that the breach was discovered at the end of May, 2018.

At this time, department officials became aware that a report relating to payments under the KT programme had issued by email to two KT facilitators unconnected with the groups in question.

Given the role of KT facilitators in issuing payments to farmers in their respective groups, such reports are regularly issued, a department spokesperson said.

The reports in question related to 759 farmers in beef KT groups, and were password protected – and therefore access to the individual farmers concerned was protected.

The department immediately took action in line with data protection legislation.

This included contacting the facilitators in question to confirm deletion of the relevant emails and contacting the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to notify the potential data protection breach, the spokesperson added.

The affected farmers were notified in writing in early June as per the procedure for such cases. Corrective procedures have been put in place, the spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine concluded.