Carthy calls on Minister Creed to address high entrance costs to Knowledge Transfer Scheme
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has written to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the European Commission about the disproportionate costs for Irish farmers wishing to avail of the Knowledge Transfer Scheme.
Speaking this week, Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“When the European Commission listed ‘knowledge transfer’ as one of their priorities for Member States to include in their Rural Development Programmes, I’m sure they didn’t envisage a situation whereby almost half of the envelope allocated to farmers would end up being used as preconditions for entry onto the scheme.”
“One of the criteria for the scheme involves farmers contracting the services of a Department Approved vet (the so-called ‘KT approved vets’) to draw up an annual Animal Health Measure. While nobody woulddisagree with this as a criterion, which will no doubt ensure the objectives of the scheme are met, it is astounding that the Department did not come to an agreement on costs with this list of pre-approved vets in advance of the scheme being rolled out.
“18,000 farmers have been registered to the scheme already, far short of the Department’s target of 27,000. No doubt part of this shortfall can be attributed to farmers believing that the process and costs associated with applying weren’t worth the effort.
“It is unacceptable that the Department made no effort in negotiating a cap on costs with vets or even a framework guideline on costs for farmers in advance of the scheme and I would now call on the Minister to ensure that this is done going forward.
“The fact that the KTS envelope is paid to farmers in arrears, means that unknown costs such as charges arising from the services of a KT-approved vet, and how much it would cost to become a member of a breeding federation, are putting off farmers.
“I am calling on the Minister to seek agreement with the KT-approved vets as soon as practicably possible”.