Advisers have been urged to stop working with farmers in knowledge transfer (KT) groups until the programme's "unworkable" terms and conditions are ironed out by the Department of Agriculture.

Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) president Noel Feeney told the Irish Farmers Journal that the association has written to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue on behalf of advisers who say they will not meet the deadline of 31 March to complete all one-on-one KT sessions with farmers.

Participating farmers in this year's programme must attend eight KT meetings per year and are required to complete a two-hour one-on-one meeting with their adviser.

However, it was only made clear last week, in an email, that advisers have just until the end of March to complete all one-on-one meetings, Feeney said.


Advisers were also told that they can only carry out two meetings per day, putting advisers under more pressure to get meetings done.

"We're urging our members to stop processing any more one-to-one meetings, don't even attempt to or do any work on KT groups until we get this resolved and get clarity on the situation."

Feeney argued that if these important details were clarified last autumn, not as many advisers would have taken on as many farmers.

"That one-to-one meeting has to be completed by the end of March, it also has to be pre-booked on the Department's KT system five days in advance of when you are going to meet your group member.

"The timeline is absolutely unworkable and we have told the Department that [in the letter]," he said.

Clashing deadlines

This March deadline is also clashing with BISS, CRISS and Eco Scheme deadlines, Feeney outlined.

"What they [the Department] have done in this CAP reform, scheme after scheme, is not fair on advisers. There's been so much chopping and changing... four and five deadlines on the one day and enough is enough.

"I don't know of any other profession who have to deal with these kind of deadlines and guidelines," he said.