January 11, 2024
Accessibility must be ensured for Knowledge Transfer Programme – Claire Kerrane TD 

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Claire Kerrane TD, has called on Minister McConalogue to address accessibility issues for the Knowledge Transfer (KT) Programme. 

Teachta Kerrane had previously sought clarity on eligibility criteria for the Programme, to ensure that women farmers and young farmers were not inadvertently excluded from KT opportunities. 

The Minister has since confirmed that applicants must have submitted a Basic Income for Sustainability Support (BISS) application and, in the cases of farm partnerships, only one member of a partnership can be eligible to participate in the KT Programme.  

While not specifically exclusionary, concerns have been raised that eligibility criteria run the risk of excluding women farmers and young farmers. 

Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said: 

“Although clarity on eligibility criteria for the Knowledge Transfer Programme is welcome, it only cements concerns that the rules will lock out women farmers and young farmers from accessing these opportunities. 

“The requirement to have submitted a BISS application and rule that only one member of a farm partnership can participate in KT opportunities means that many women and young people will not have the chance to take part in the Programme. 

“While I understand these criteria are not specifically gendered or intentionally exclusionary, the reality is that hinging KT Programme eligibility on those conditions will only serve to exclude groups within the farming community. 

“This issue of eligibility criteria has been raised with the Minister with regard to other schemes, such as the Women Farmer’s Capital Investment Scheme (WFCIS) under TAMS 3. We are now seeing a repeat of the problem with the KT Programme. 

“As well as this, I engaged with the Women in Agriculture Stakeholder Group (WASG) on this matter and believe that women-specific KT groups had been discussed as part of the development of the KT Programme, but they have not materialised. 

“I understand from a reply to a recent Parliamentary Question that the Minister and his Department are reviewing rules around herd numbers and eligibility for key farm schemes and supports. It is important that this fundamental issue is addressed to avoid women farmers and young farmers being excluded from such opportunities in future. 

“As I have said before, the Minister has repeatedly stated his ambition to support women in agriculture and young farmers. However, this is not being adequately reflected in actual access to schemes and opportunities which support knowledge transfer and skills development amongst those groups. 

“It is crucial that the Minister works to address the identified issue and ensure accessibility for the Knowledge Transfer Programme moving forward.” 

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