The Farm Advisory System aims at helping farmers to better understand and meet the EU rules for environment, public and animal health, animal welfare and the good agricultural and environmental condition.
What is the Farm Advisory System?
The 2003 CAP reform introduced the cross-compliance mechanism which links direct payments to compliance by farmers with basic standards concerning the environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare, as well as the requirement of maintaining land in good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAEC).
The introduction of this mechanism was accompanied by an obligation for Member States to set up of a Farm Advisory System (FAS) which aims at helping farmers to better understand and meet the EU rules for environment, public and animal health, animal welfare and the GAEC. In this respect, national authorities had the obligation as from 2007 to offer their farmers advice under a FAS, applying certain priority criteria if needed (Council Regulation 73/2009). The rural development policy supports farmers to make use of advisory services and supports Member States in setting up new farm advisory services where needed.
The Farm Advisory System covers the overall organisation and the various public and/or private operators that deliver farm advisory services to a farmer in a Member State (see Article 12 of the Council Regulation).
The existence of a national FAS guarantees that each farmer can seek and receive advice on at least the basic cross-compliance requirements in the field of the environment, public health, animal and plant health, animal welfare and GAEC. A farm advisory service assesses the specific situation of the farmer and gives appropriate advice.
What is the current situation of the FAS?
An evaluation study of the implementation of the Farm Advisory System was carried out for the Commission and published in December 2009.
In November 2010 the Commission published a report on the application of the Farm Advisory System. Given the recent introduction of the FAS, the purpose of this Commission report is not to offer an exhaustive overview but to provide input for a debate in the Council and the European Parliament in the course of 2010-2011. The report proposes to improve the management of the FAS: ensuring that knowledge is shared between actors and that synergies between various instruments such as advice, training, information, extension services and research are enhanced. A FAS advisor should act as a 'general practitioner', interlinking all different aspects of farming. He should explain to farmers not only EU requirements but also their objectives, and the underlying policies.