The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has “finally woken” up to the problems facing the Knowledge Transfer (KT) programme, according to Fianna Fail’s Charlie McConalogue.

McConalogue welcomed Minister Creed’s decision to extend the deadline for the KT programme.

Minister Creed announced yesterday that the original deadline of May 31, for the completion of meetings and the Farm Improvement Plan in Knowledge Transfer Groups, will be extended until July 31.

“I am glad that Minister Creed has listened to the concerns of farmers and farming organisations and has extended the deadline for the Knowledge Transfer scheme until the end of July,” McConalogue said.

McConalogue outlined that he has been ‘inundated with queries’ from farmers who were fearful that they would miss out on funding, because they had been unable to complete their applications online.

IT problems within the department’s own system have led to issues with farmers and advisers being unable to submit required paperwork online, he added.

According to McConalogue, who is Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson, there are a number of issues with the scheme that need to be addressed.

“While I welcome the fact that the minister has finally woken up to the seriousness of the situation and extended the deadline, there are a number of other issues with the scheme that need to be addressed.

“There are around 20,000 farmers signed up to the Knowledge Transfer Group scheme, and despite the fact that we are almost halfway through the current 2014-2020 CAP programme, not one cent of the €100 million allocated to the KT programme has been spent.

“I am calling on the minister to ensure that this funding is rolled out efficiently, so that farmers can carry out work on their farms without delay,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IFA has also called on Minister Creed to instigate a review of the Knowledge Transfer Group scheme.

This follows on from the difficulties that have faced the scheme since it commenced, the IFA added.