The Farm Advisory Service (FAS) will be run by SAC Consulting in conjunction with Ricardo Energy & Environment and will be funded through £20 million worth of rural development money over the next four years.
Sandy Ramsay, head of SAC Consulting Solutions, said that the service was aimed at three main areas – helping farmers to ensure they kept on the right side of cross compliance issues, improving profitability through greater management and technical efficiencies and tying these in with environmental considerations.
The FAS website – which went live this week – will highlight producer events which will take place over coming months. It will also provide details on gaining access to specialist advice, mentoring for new entrants and on arrangements for having carbon audits conducted.
The scheme will also be the gateway to the new integrated land management plans, which replace the whole farm review scheme – and grants of up to £2,200 will be available to conduct these investigations into farm performance.
An advice phone line, covering a wide variety of topics including cross compliance, water framework directive requirements, climate change and many other technical issues will also be operated by FAS.
A Crofter & Small Farm Advisory Service will provide discounted subscription and consultancy services for crofters and farming businesses under 30 ha across the country, details of which will be available at the Scottish Smallholders Festival which takes place this weekend at Lanark mart.