Publication - Research and analysis

Farm Advisory Service: enhanced monitoring and evaluation

Published: 10 Sep 2019
Directorate:
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural
ISBN:
9781839600876

This report was commissioned by the Scottish Government for Winning Moves to conduct a piece of research to explore the quality, focus and effectiveness of the Farm Advisory Service (FAS).

Farm Advisory Service: enhanced monitoring and evaluation
4. Benefits

4. Benefits

106 respondents (out of 112) reported some benefits in various combinations. Six respondents reported no benefits. Two of these had a carbon audit only, three had an ILMP with specialist advice and one had an ILMP, carbon audit and specialist advice.

4.1 Business performance benefits

Figure 2 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future a range of business performance benefits. This shows considerable impact. All of these benefits with the one exception of improved access to borrowing were reported by over half of respondents.

Figure 2: Business performance benefits achieved or expected to be achieved, (n=112)

Figure 2: Business performance benefits achieved or expected to be achieved, (n=112)

Figure 3 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future a range of business performance benefits by category of support received. This shows the highest levels of (actual or expected) achievement for the small group who received mentoring support. In most cases the lowest proportion who achieved or expected to achieve these benefits was for those who received only a carbon audit.

Figure 3: Business performance benefits achieved or expected to be achieved by support type received

Figure 3: Business performance benefits achieved or expected to be achieved by support type received

Looking at the business performance benefits achieved or expected to be achieved by farm size, some differences were noted. Achieving or expecting to achieve improved cash flow, improved access to borrowing and improved business stability were more likely to be reported by farms with less than 100 hectares (77%, 34% and 74% respectively) compared to bigger farms (51%, 26% and 66%) .

Where respondents had reported that they had achieved additional sales, reduced costs and/or increased profitability, they were also asked if they could give a per annum figure for this. About a quarter of respondents who reported achieving these benefits were able to give a figure. The results are shown in Table 5. All except one of these figures were estimates. Respondents cited a range of figures. The median values are of a reasonable size: £3,000 for reduced costs, £5,000 for increased profit and £9,000 for additional sales.

Table 5: Additional sales, reduced costs and increased profit figures given

Per annum Number of estimates given Number of exact figures given Minimum and maximum values Mean Median
Additional sales, n=33 8 0 £4,500 -£40,000 £13,625 £9,000
Reduced costs, n=57 15 1 £1,000 - £10,000 £3,792 £3,000
Increased profit, n=56 14 0 £1,000-£40,000 £7,929 £5,000

4.2 Business structure and creation

Figure 4 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future a number of business structure benefits. This shows that approximately a third of respondents are reporting each of this type of benefit. Nearly all (88%) of those receiving mentoring had or expected to create a new farming or croft business successfully. This also probably explains, in part, why the creation of a new farming or croft business was also reported more frequently by those with a farm of less than 100 hectares (46%) compared to larger farms (25%). A slightly larger proportion of respondents from larger farms (over 100 hectares) (39%) reported achieving or expecting to achieve improved plans for retirement, succession or exit from the business than smaller farms (31%).

Figure 4 Business structure benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

Figure 4 Business structure benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

4.3 Employment benefits

Figure 5 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future employment benefits. This shows that just over a fifth (22%) reported that the support had enabled them to create additional jobs and over half (57%) said it had safeguarded jobs.

Figure 5 Employment benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

Figure 5 Employment benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

Where employment benefits were reported, respondents were asked if they could provide figures for the number of jobs created or safeguarded. Only four respondents were able to answer this for the creation of jobs. Three said that exactly one additional job had been created and another one respondent estimated that 1 full time equivalent job had been created (but in the form of part-time employment).

47 (of 52) respondents who had reported achieving job safeguarding gave what they said was an exact figure for the number of jobs that had been safeguarded. The mean and median of these figures was 2 jobs. The minimum figure given was 0.5 and the maximum was 3. Another four respondents gave estimates varying from 0.5 to 3 jobs. Thus, there is reasonable evidence that where job safeguarding is reported, this is at the level of 2 jobs on average.

The proportion reporting job safeguarding was quite similar across support types received. Job creation was particularly high amongst mentoring recipients (63%) and was lowest amongst those who received a carbon audit only (8%). This corresponds with the finding that a somewhat higher proportion of smaller farms (under 100 hectares) (31%) reported achieving or expecting to achieve creation of jobs compared to larger farms (18%). A somewhat higher proportion of larger farms (more than 100 hectares) (61%) reported achieving or expecting to achieve some safeguarding of employment compared to smaller farms (49%).

4.4 Skills and knowledge benefits

Figure 6 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future skills and knowledge benefits. This shows that more than half (58%) learnt or expected to learn new skills through the support and three quarters (75%) had or expected to have an improved understanding of farming or a particular aspect of farming. The proportions who reported achieving or expecting to achieve these benefits were particularly high amongst those who received mentoring (88% and 100% respectively). The proportion who reported that they had or expected to learn new skills was also higher amongst cattle and sheep farmers (64%) compared to other types of farmers (51%).

Figure 6 Skills and knowledge benefits achieved or expected to be achieved, n=112

Figure 6 Skills and knowledge benefits achieved or expected to be achieved, n=112

4.5 Environmental benefits

Figure 7 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future a range of environmental benefits. This shows that a wide range of environmental benefits are being achieved or expect to be achieved. The proportions reporting these varies. Some apply in a smaller subset of respondents, for example, better managed archaeological and historical sites and increased organic production. These may be more niche interests or less widely applicable than other benefits. Better managed soil quality and nutrients was particularly widely reported by 83% of respondents.

Respondents were not able to provide figures on the amount by which they had reduced carbon emissions.

Figure 7 Environmental benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

Figure 7 Environmental benefits achieved or expected to be achieved (n=112)

Figure 8 shows the proportion of respondents who either have achieved or expect to achieve in the future a range of environmental benefits by support type received.

Again mentoring respondents had a distinctive profile compared to those receiving other support packages. Somewhat higher proportions of this sub-sample reported achieving or expecting to achieve: increased biodiversity; better managed habitats; increased organic production; and improved animal welfare. Somewhat lower proportions of the mentoring sub-sample reported achieving or expecting to achieve: improved compliance with regulations; and reduced water pollution.

As would reasonably be expected, a higher proportion of those who received a carbon audit (either on its own or in combination with other support) compared to those who did not receive a carbon audit reported: reduced energy use; reduced carbon emissions; better managed soil quality and nutrients; and increased business resilience to the impact of climate change.

There were some differences by the size of farms (under and over 100 hectares) but these seem likely to be explained by the fact that those who received mentoring were mainly smaller farms and those who had a carbon audit only were mainly larger farms.

There were higher proportions of cattle and sheep farmers compared to respondents from other types of farm who reported achieving or expecting to achieve some specific environmental benefits: better managed habitats (75% for cattle and sheep farmers, 62% for other); increased organic production (31% for cattle and sheep farmers, 23% for other); and increased business resilience to climate change (66% for cattle and sheep farmers, 53% for other).

Figure 8 Environmental benefits achieved or expected to be achieved by support type received

Figure 8 Environmental benefits achieved or expected to be achieved by support type received

4.6 Attribution

All those who reported some benefits from the support provided through the FAS were asked how the support provided helped them to achieve this benefit. The responses are shown in Table 6. This shows primarily that the FAS has improved the benefits for most respondents. This divides roughly into halves in terms of whether the benefits are a lot or a little better due to the support of the FAS.

A small number of respondents (nine in total) said that the benefits would have arisen anyway. Five of these had received a carbon audit only and four had received an ILMP, carbon audit and specialist advice.

Table 6: Attribution of benefits to the Farm Advisory Service

  %
n=99  
The benefits would not have arisen in the absence of the Farm Advisory Service 8%
The benefits are a lot better thanks to the Farm Advisory Service 43%
The benefits are a little better thanks to the Farm Advisory Service 39%
The benefits would have arisen anyway. 9%

Contact

Email: Gordon.Jackson@gov.scot