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Who are Advisory Services Leaving Out? A Critical Reflection on ‘Hard to Reach’ Farmers

Although the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union has broadened its objectives to integrate social issues, several hard-to-reach groups of farmers and workers continue to be ignored by advisory services and associated policies. Connecting with these groups has a strong potential to increase the economic and social cohesion of European agricultures. We interviewed over 1,000 farmers across Europe and identified features of these groups that are often overlooked by advisory services. We critically reflected on the social cohorts omitted from advisory services and how they could be better reached; they include farm labourers, new entrants or ‘career changers’, and later adopters. We clarify the different types of advisors in the advisory landscape, distinguishing between those who are linked to or independent from sales of inputs or technologies. We make concrete recommendations about how to engage advisors with hard-to-reach groups, with approaches suited to different national contexts of Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS); thus contributing to the ‘AKIS dimension of National Strategic Plans of the next Common Agricultural Policy, 2023–2027. We argue for the more effective use of advances in the social sciences through a better understanding of advice as social interaction which can bolster the inclusiveness of public policies.

Labarthe, P., Sutherland, L., Laurent, C., Nguyen, G., Tisenkopfs, T.,  Triboulet P., Bechtet, N., Bulten, E., Elzen, B., Madureira, L., Noble, Ch., Pražan, J., Townsend, L., Zarokosta, E., Prager, K., Redman, M.

EuroChoices, 1/2022, p. 50-55, ISSN 1478-0917