2 What is the Farm Advisory Service?
The Farm Advisory Service (FAS) is a component of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-20. The service was launched in September 2016 and will be effective until 31 December 2020.
The Farm Advisory Service is one of the services procured to support the Scottish Government's policy of "Encouraging sustainable growth and broadening opportunities that will help create a more competitive dynamic agricultural sector that contributes to the long term viability of rural communities while maintaining high standards of animal health and welfare and environmental management."
From a procurement perspective, the provision of the FAS is split into two:
- FAS One to One
- FAS One to Many
The FAS One to One service – which is not the focus of the current evaluation – refers to several parts of the overall offering which provide one-on-one engagement with farmers and the development of specific plans for action.
2.2 FAS Delivery
The FAS One to Many component of the service, by contrast, refers to a range of services provided in addition to the development of farm specific plans. These comprise:
- In person and online events
- Maintaining a website to provide information on farming
- Providing and disseminating publications and technical information
- Providing specialist advice to respond to telephone queries
- Providing a social media presence and attending sector events
- Contributing to the farming press
- Providing a monthly newsletter
- Providing a range of outputs such as videos, online tools and podcasts
2.3 Goals of the Service
The goals of the One to Many component of the FAS are farming/crofting sustainability, as well as resource efficiency advice and agricultural business advice, including advice to new entrants. The outcomes specified in the tender for the FAS: One to Many service are as follows:
- Knowledgeable, multi-skilled farmers and crofters capable of delivering business, societal and environmental benefits within a complex legislative and physical operating environment.
- Greater uptake of agricultural practices that deliver increased economic performance whilst mitigating against climate change and enhancing biodiversity status.
- Increasing numbers of dynamic young people successfully entering Scottish agriculture, thereby injecting vigour in the development of thriving farm and rural businesses.
- Easy access to up-to-date and relevant knowledge and information to all farmers and crofters through a network of advisory centres, on-line resources and a telephone advice facility.
- Land managers using key national performance metrics (benchmarks).
- Improved uptake of integrated methods of managing plant and animal health, including the safer use of and reduced reliance on pesticides and antibiotics.
- Improved water quality through a reduction in diffuse pollution and run-off.
Both components of the FAS – one to one and one to many – relate to the EU Focus Areas below. Focus Areas structure the key goals of EU agricultural funding.
- Improving the economic performance of all farms and facilitating farm restructuring and modernisation, notably with a view to increasing market participation and orientation as well as agricultural diversification
- Facilitating the entry of adequately skilled farmers into the agricultural sector and, in particular, generational renewal
- Supporting farm risk prevention and management
- Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry.
- Increasing efficiency in energy use in agriculture and food processing
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