Bar to be set for Rural Advisors

17 April 2024

Rural professionals may soon have an industry standard to work towards that carries an accreditation, assuring farmers and fellow professionals they meet an industry standard for advice and knowledge.

The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM) has just completed a road show seeking feedback from members about what sort of programme and its content could best meet industry needs and farmer expectations.

NZIPIM CEO Jo Finer said the proposal will see rural professionals have a body with similar stature to the Law Society for lawyers, or engineers’ Engineering NZ body.

She said interest has been greater than initially expected, with a broad range of high calibre, senior industry people expressing support for the scheme.

“It is not so much that we have a problem now, but this is an effort to raise the kudos and status of professionals who support the primary sector. It allows them to sit alongside the likes of engineers and accountants.”

Usually, such bodies include a complaints process and disciplinary procedures, but Finer said NZIPIM already has a complaints process in place.

“It is just that most do not know that it is there, and that we have professional standards for them to base a complaint upon.”

She said the institute has enjoyed a positive informal response from the government, which is keen not to foist more regulations on the primary sector.

“There’s been strong support for the proposed programme, with everyone broadly agreeing that there’s value in developing an integrated programme to accredit primary industry professionals to support, develop and deliver the future of farming.”

She acknowledged farm professionals are working in a complex environment today. Bankers, for example, are required to understand their clients’ environmental standards and emissions levels.

“Having someone sign up to a standard that agrees on an integrated approach is valuable. Farm consultants used to be generalists, now they need services of various experts, and having an accreditation provides assurance about the quality of the advice being engaged.”

She said the Master Builders voluntary accreditation programme is a good template for the type of programme rural professionals may sign on to.

Finer said the next step is to prepare a full business case for board sign-off.

She fully expects it will take several years to develop but is encouraged by the wide cross-sector support the proposal has received so far.

Farmers Weekly, 16 April 2024