The Department of Agriculture has agreed to be more lenient with its knowledge transfer (KT) programme's terms and conditions following a crunch meeting with both private and Teagasc advisers on Wednesday evening 17 January.

Private advisers were urged last week by the Agricultural Consultants Association (ACA) to down tools in protest over what they said were "unmanageable" KT scheme deadlines.

Although the Department has not agreed to extend the 31 March deadline, it has agreed to allow advisers carry out double the amount of one-to-one sessions with farmers per day and has eased restrictions around what groups farmers can be selected from.


Previously, advisers could only carry out two one-to-one meetings per day with farmers, lasting two hours each, and those meetings could only be with farmers from the same KT group.

Advisers can now also carry out meetings on Saturdays, where previously this was restricted to week days.

ACA president Noel Feeney said that the Department took on board their concerns around the "unworkable" deadline and made provisions to meet them half way.

"We had our meeting with the Department in Portlaosie, we described the KT situation to them and how it was also going to be overlapping with BISS, CRISS, eco scheme, soil sampling and derogation deadlines.

"In fairness, they took it on board and straight away we'll double our output of meetings to four per day and also carry out meetings on Saturdays."


However, an adviser from Tipperary told the Irish Farmers Journal that whiIe the leniency is welcome, when the numbers are broken down it is still going to be "more than challenging" to meet the deadline.

"When you break it down between now and the end of March, you're talking about missing January completely because these meetings have to be booked in five days in advance, you have the new St Brigid's Day bank holiday, St Patrick's Day and Good Friday.

"If you're meant to meet four people per day and you've the guts of 100 people in your discussion groups, that's 25 working days alone just devoted to KT, plus its other administrations.

"No one talks about the half an hour you have to give on the phone with the farmer organising a date and time for the meeting. We have all our other work to do as well on top of KT.

"It's a great consolation to get, but when you break it down it's going to be more than challenging," he said.