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Agricultural consultant/adviser

Advises farmers, landowners and conservation organisations on business and technical solutions.

Agricultural consultants are professional problem-solvers and advisers employed by the agricultural community. Clients include farmers, growers, landowners, conservation organisations and public bodies. Agricultural consultants provide advice in all matters concerning the ownership and occupation of land and rural businesses.

They can specialise in providing agricultural related consultancy services to individual farmers, companies and organisations, and in particular in liaising with the relevant government departments on EU and other state funded schemes administered by the Irish and UK Government.

Work activities

An agricultural consultant or adviser may be a business or a technical specialist and their work varies depending on the employing organisation but can include:

  • Corresponding with clients to identify and evaluate their business or technical requirements.
  • Measuring performance and analysing data such as crop yield.
  • Attending meetings, organising seminars, classes, farm demonstrations and group sessions.
  • Writing advisory leaflets, technical notes, press releases and articles.
  • Completing planning applications.
  • Handling the business, compliance and paperwork issues surrounding modern farming.
  • Undertaking administrative duties, managing budgets and accounts, updating information, and preparing reports.
  • Keeping up to date with relevant developments.

Work conditions

Travel: during the working day is frequent.
Working hours: mainly Monday–Friday but actual hours vary depending on the season and may require visiting farms and attending meetings outside normal office hours particularly in busy periods.
Location: in rural areas throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: can manage own farm.

Typical employers

  • Commercial agri-consultancies
  • Banks
  • Relevant government departments
  • Agricultural advisory body – Teagasc
  • Charities, environmental and conservation bodies
  • Farming cooperatives.

Career development

Career development will depend very much on the employing organisation and promotion to senior consultant based on experience and performance is possible.

Consultants will typically go on to specialise in a particular niche. For example forestry consultancy, acquisitions and negotiation, EU and Government related schemes, insurance claims, environmental consultancy and pollution control.

Salaries

Salaries vary according to employer.

Specific degree subjects required

While there are exceptions, such as for those working as agricultural consultants in banks, normally a degree in agriculture or other relevant subject is required.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Agricultural engineering
  • Agricultural Science
  • Agri-Environmental science
  • Animal production
  • Animal science – equine
  • Crop management
  • Dairy business
  • Equine business
  • Farm business management
  • Food and agri-business management
  • Forestry
  • Horticulture
  • Land/Estate management.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Specific entry requirements

Membership of ACA (Agricultural Consultants Association) is open to professional (level eight) graduates in agriculture, environmental science, horticulture and forestry. New members need a minimum level of two years experience and evidence of professional indemnity insurance.

Training

Training will vary depending on employer but can consist of in-house training combined with short external courses.

Tips for applications

Gain relevant farm experience particularly during the summer vacation months. Read relevant publications such as the Farmer’s Journal.

Skills and qualities

  • Practical experience and a sound knowledge of farm management.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and spoken.
  • Ability to persuade and influence clients and maintain relationships
  • Good business acumen.
  • Technical and analytical ability including good IT skills.
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills.
  • Commercial awareness.
  • Ability to work on own initiative and as part of a team.