Thursday, 13 August 2015 15:13

New scheme to give farmers better advice

Written by 
NZIPIM chief executive Stephen Macaulay. NZIPIM chief executive Stephen Macaulay.

Farmers may soon expect to get better advice from dairy farm consultants, says the NZ Institute for Primary Industries Management (NZIPIM), which launched a certification scheme last week at its annual conference in Ashburton. 

The Dairy Farm Systems Certification Scheme is the work of DairyNZ, dairy farm systems consultants and NZIPIM, which will develop and test the scheme’s assessment methods and offer training to ensure the material stays current and relevant.  

The scheme will recognise and promote the competency of consultants working on DairyNZ’s sustainable milk plans, whole farm assessments and interpretation of DairyBase benchmarking reports.

NZIPIM chief executive Stephen Macaulay says dairy farmers need to be sure about the advice they receive, especially at this time of “price volatility, and scrutiny by consumers and communities to ensure food is produced to a high standard and sustainably”.

“To become certified, consultants will have to pass a competency assessment in all aspects of farm systems, complete an ethics module, receive positive feedback from farmer clients on their knowledge base and communication skills, and provide evidence of ‘in the field’ work such as whole farm assessments.” These report on farm systems, identify risks and opportunities and make recommendations in line with a farm’s business strategy.

“The scheme recognises the competency and capability of farm consultants and provides a level of certainty for [farmers] about the quality of the advice they receive. In time it will give regional councils, banks, accountants and milk companies greater confidence in making referrals.”

Nine consultants have so far begun their assessment; most practicing consultants will work to get certified in the next few years.  Certified consultants will be named on the NZIPIM’s website and promoted via other industry websites.  

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