New national benchmark paves the way for chartered agriculture status
A new national benchmark to recognise the professional skills of those working within agriculture and pave the way for chartered status has been launched by the Institute of Agricultural Management (IAgrM). Called Professional Agriculturalist (P.Agric), the new grade of IAgrM membership is subject to independent accreditation by the British Assessment Bureau, whilst applicants - those demonstrating professional knowledge covering the area in which they work - are subject to a formal review and interview by a panel of trained assessors.
“P.Agric is designed as a forerunner to creating ‘chartered’ status for agriculturalists in order to formally recognise those working in the sector, and put farming on a par with other professions, such as surveyors, engineers and environmentalists,” IAgrM chairman, Tim Brigstocke told a media briefing in London on 15 October.
“We have investigated introducing a ‘chartered’ designation on a number of occasions over the past 10 years in order to provide farmers with recognition and there is no doubt that it could provide a valuable career progression of great recognition, however we have been advised by the Privy Council to initially develop a professional agriculturalist approach and then progress to achieve chartered designation which in fact requires critical mass in terms of numbers coming forward.”
P.Agric has been developed over three years in response to requests for a formally assessed professional grade from the Institute’s 700 plus strong membership, said IAgrM director, Richard Cooksley. “Agriculture is no different than any other profession or industry and we are increasingly required to demonstrate our professionalism.
“P.Agric unlike most schemes operating in the sector is awarded not only to those demonstrating annual CPD via formal applications and submission of evidence but also through a formal interview process to determine both practical and academic skills. Furthermore, P.Agric is being formally and annually accredited and audited by the British Accreditation Bureau. This is not the norm in the sector.”
Over time the development of P.Agric is scheduled to
- Reassure consumers and others of high standards of agricultural practice
- Ensure that transactions are conducted in a competent, professional and ethical manner consistent with the principles of sustainability
- Encourage the recruitment of able new entrants through the provision of a discernible career structure
- Provide a formal framework for existing farmers, farm managers and others to undergo systematic lifelong learning (CPD)
- Seek to advance all aspects of UK agriculture and land based stewardship
In addition, P.Agrics will be in a position to provide credible and informed guidance to policy makers and other stakeholders.
Mr Brigstocke continued: “We believe very strongly that P.Agric is a unique approach which fits so well into the current mood of the sector. While there are huge amounts of all sorts of training and skills activities being run often funded under RDPE activities together with CPD schemes such as BASIS, DairyPro and NRoSo, P.Agric will allow an individual to bring together the totality of his or her activities to be formally recognised.”
He added: “IAgrM is not precious about the P.Agric moniker and could see it linking with other bodies such as BIAC, Nuffield, and Worshipful Company of Farmers. The key element is to promote professionalism in our sector, to make it more substantial so that it actually means something. We need to ensure that UK agriculture has a workforce that is recognised for its professionalism initially with P.Agric and eventually through chartered status, which in turn will help to lift the image of UK farming plc to those out with the industry.”
Euston Estate’s farm director Andrew Blenkiron is among the first IAgrM members to be awarded P.Agric status. He commented: “I am delighted that IAgrM has decided to introduce this grade of membership, the lack of professional recognition for farmers and farm managers has been of concern to me throughout my career, I see P.Agric as a massive step forward in assisting to give us, as land managers, the recognition that our expertise and skills deserve. I do hope that this is a significant step towards a chartered status.”