MDI carries out evaluation of the farm advisory service measure of the Mainland Finland RDP during 2016–2019. The second interim report, which examined the farm advisory service measure especially from a regional point of view, was completed in April 2018. The assessment was based on monitoring information, other statistical and documentary material, and expert interviews.
A total of € 34 million of public funding has been allocated to the farm advisory service measure in the Mainland Finland Rural Development Programme 2014–2020. By the end of 2017, some 21.7 % (7.39 million euros) of the total budget had been paid out through 28,210 payments. There are altogether 744 approved Farm Advisors in the registry of the Agency for Rural Affairs. The environmental and farm competitiveness topics have the largest number of approved farm advisors, whereas energy and organic farming have least advisors. About 80% of the approved farm advisors have used their advisory rights.
The Farm Advisory Service measure covers 36 topics in nine focus areas. Most of the given advice is related to environmental and animal welfare issues. In the whole of mainland Finland, cattle, pig and dairy farms have been the grain farms most interested in using advisory services. Regionally, the greatest number of farm advisory services were used in Northern Ostrobothnia, Northern Savolax and Southern Ostrobothnia. These same regions have also the largest number of Farm Advisors. The smallest numbers of farm advisory services were used in Lapland and Kainuu, which also have the lowest number of approved farm advisors.
According to the evaluation findings, farms benefit from the farm advisory services measure, and the measure is deemed necessary. There are, however, significant variations in the usage of farm advisory services amongst regions and topics. The variations are explained, among other things, by the number of advisors regionally, the farm and production structure, and factors related to the implementation of the farm advisory services measure. The evaluators recommend the opening of the farm advisory services register with new advisors, as well as activating passive advisors in order to provide farm advisory services on different topics equally all over the country. In addition, the evaluators give recommendations on the implementation of the farm advisory services measure
The interim report is available in Finnish on the Finnish Rural Network website (in Finnish) https://www.maaseutu.fi/globalassets/arviointi/mdi-neuvo2020-valoreport-9.4.2018.pdf