Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called for clarity to be provided on eligibility for the new Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme.
Concerns have been raised that eligibility criteria for the KT Programme may require participants to be herd keepers rather than joint herd owners, which in turn could result in many women farmers and young farmers being excluded from the opportunity.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Kerrane said, “The new Knowledge Transfer Programme is really welcome and will no doubt build on the valuable guidance, advice and targeted skills development that the previous programme delivered. However, it is really concerning that many women farmers and young farmers may be locked out of this opportunity as a result of the programme’s eligibility criteria.
“It appears that there may be a requirement in the Department’s terms and conditions for the scheme that participants be herd keepers rather than joint herd owners. Many women in agriculture and young farmers will be part of farm partnerships and are often a joint herd owner, rather than the registered herd keeper. That the Department only allow for one herd keeper is an ongoing issue which representative groups, such as the Women in Agriculture Stakeholder Group (WASG), have long raised with the minister.
“This an issue the minister and his Department will be well aware of, and it would be incredibly disappointing if eligibility for the KT Programme is hinged on participants being herd keepers, rather than allowing for joint herd owners to participate too.
“I have sought clarity on the criteria for the scheme and would urge the minister to make clear that joint herd owners will be eligible to take part in the Knowledge Transfer Programme.
“The minister has repeatedly stated his ambition to support women in agriculture and young farmers, but this must be reflected in access to schemes and opportunities which support knowledge transfer and skills development amongst those groups”, concluded Deputy Kerrane.