A new initiative announced this month will recognise the competence of advisers working in the animal feed sector and also provide a structure for training and professional development.

Speaking at a recent seminar for fieldstaff employed by agricultural supply companies Robin Irvine of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association highlighted the importance of the advice and guidance provided in support of products supplied to farmers.

"Farming is supported by a wide range of professional advisors from agronomists to vets to feed advisers. Each plays an important role in delivering technical advice to support sustainable farming systems. Advisers help businesses to improve competitiveness and resource efficiency and are helping the agricultural industry deliver its environmental objectives.

"It has been calculated that throughout the UK there are 20,000 conversations every week between suppliers and farmer customers. These conversations will revolve around the use of products but often will involve discussions on farming techniques and husbandry.

"Many of our customers look to our sales and advisory staff for guidance on a range of issues - these advisers will often play a significant part in the management of particular client farms and will influence many of the decisions made.

"Our trade has been shown to be the principle disseminator of advice and information to farmers - hopefully this is all good advice - soundly based and bringing benefit to our customers.

"With the launch of FAR ( Feed Advisers Register) the feed industry now has an accepted standard of practice in this area - a qualification which has to be earned and maintained.

"The Register will recognise competence in a number of key areas and will also create a framework for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

"This provides a structure for our staff to develop their skills and to add value to the business we do with our customers. It makes a significant statement of our commitment to the industry - in improving standards - in recognising and rewarding staff development - in supporting our customers in an area which is no longer covered by other agencies.

"The communication of the messages from Research & Development - from the scientist to the farmer - delivering the science and turning it into practical and commercial reality."

Details of The Feed Adviser Register (FAR) can be found at www.feedadviserregister.org.uk