The Agricultural Industries Confederation launched its Value of Advice report at the House of Commons and gained praise from Defra Minister David Heath and David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.
The Value of Advice Report assesses, from a farming business viewpoint, how information and advice is provided on UK farms. It identifies an inner ‘Ring of Confidence’ that includes a wide range of advisers and other information sources that a farmer depends on when making decisions. The group ranges from suppliers of farm inputs, through professionals such as lawyers and accountants, to family friends and neighbours.
“Our work was undertaken at a time when there are some siren voices calling for the re-invention of a state extension service,” said AIC Chief Executive David Caffall. “We needed to show to policy makers that there is an established range of advice available to farmers and that wheels did not need to be reinvented.”
For AIC Members, who provide advice on animal feed, crop protection products, fertiliser, grain marketing and advice, the report highlights the scale of the advisory army that operates on farms.
“We estimate that our members invest over £200 million in professional advisers. Through schemes such as BASIS and FACTS, as well as the soon to be launched Feed Adviser Register, some £5million is spent on continuing professional development. AIC Members invest at least £45million on development work to enable them to tailor advice to farmers. And we can have around 20,000 on-farm conversations each week,” said Mr Caffall.
Welcoming the report, Farming Minister David Heath said that the information was timely and has fed into Defra’s own review of the advisory landscape.
“We have a message to share to increase production, improve resource utilisation and raise environmental benefits,” he said. “Government should provide information and let others have the discussions to deliver advice.”
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, described the industry’s concern at the slowing of production efficiency in recent years. Government is investing in ways to increase productivity, but he recognised that delivery of information to farms was critical to restore Britain’s position as a world class leader in agriculture.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the AIC