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Advisory services

     

    In the old times all the skills needed in farming were passed from father to son. This has changed over the years as simply knowing how to navigate the agricultural support system is a challenge nowadays. Beginning farmers are now required to get training before starting.

    Agricultural advisors are a valuable help to farmers for crop planning and filling out applications to receive subsidies. In addition to this, some environmental advisory services are also offered to farmers. If advisory services are subject to charge, as they often are, farmers might choose not to use these services.

    More environmental advisory services are needed. Farm-level advisory services have lead to best results. It is also important to encourage agricultural advisors to include environmental matters in their work. Well planned agri-environmental measures can lead to financial benefits for farmers. 

    Current situation

     

    Several organizations as well as private persons offer agricultural advisory services. Agricultural advisory services is however been traditionally separated from environmental matters in Finland. 

    Advisory services for farmers related to cross-compliance (a mechanism that link direct payment to compliance by farmers with basic standards) has been a supported service in Finland since 2007. Some of the cross-compliance requirements are directly linked to nutrient loading and biodiversity.

    Farm Advisory Service has not so far been very popular in Finland. This is partly because it has not been promoted very much. In some other Europian countries these services have become very popular.

    Järki project participated 2009 in a work shop in Brussels to find solutions for this problem. Read more on how to better integrate water protection into Farm Advisory Services from the guide book compiled after the work shop. 

    In Finland, advisors work either independently or through an organization. In environmental issues it has been separated into two: advisory services on special agreements and basic measures. Often this work is done by two different persons, and the finding the most suitable measures isn’t always possible for farmers nor advisors. Advisors rarely have a good picture of the whole farm system. The largest advisory organization in Finland is ProAgria that has also advisors focused on biodiversity or landscape management.

    These days also registered associations can apply for agri-environmental support for managing traditional rural biotopes, promoting biodiversity and constructing wetlands. These associations also need the help of advisors.

    At the moment, there are several attempts to improve the agri-environmental advisory in Finland. It seems that in the next Rural Development Programme the advisory will be more connected to the agri-environmental scheme.


    Goals

     

    Goals:

    1) More environmental advisory services for farmers

    2) More information about environmental matters to agricultural advisors

    3) More cooperation between advisors


    To do

     

    One of the goals for the new agri-environmental support programme period is adding awareness of farmers on environmental issues through advisory services.

    The cost of advisory services should be lower. Several projects offer these services free of charge at the moment, but this is not permanent solution.

    Farmers are not the only group needing these services. For example, person involved with agricultural matters in municipalities also need more training.

    There should be discussion about the certification of advisors. Because there is need to increase the number of advisors, training for it should also be focused on. Current information and additional training should also be provided for farmers.

    In order to have more qualified advisors, more focus should also be given in training programmes in the agri-environmental field. The work should begin immediately.