EUFRAS Board Strategy Workshop in Helsinki

The EUFRAS Board met on the 28th of February at the headquarters of the Finnish advisory service ProAgria in Vantaa near Helsinki for a strategy workshop. Three strategic issues were identified which the EUFRAS Board sees as the focus of its work in the coming years: Advocacy: representation of interests for rural advisory work Young EUFRAS: further development of the network of young rural advisors Communication and dissemination activities



EUFRAS board in the strategy workshop in Vantaa (Finland) with Moderator Jaana Kiljunen.

After ten years, the EUFRAS logo designed by Pablo Asensio is replaced by a professionally designed new logo generously provided for free by Consulai.

Ulrich Ryser, EUFRAS Board member from Agridea Switzerland presenting the annual report and Anita Dzemle, EUFRAS Vice Chairman from LLKC Latvia guiding through the program.

What makes EUFRAS so special?

At conferences, excursions, and online meetings, agricultural advisors from all over Europe exchange ideas and receive new impulses for their work. It is the view beyond one's own nose and the inspiring encounters with professional colleagues from neighboring countries that are highly valued by agricultural advisors. EUFRAS has become a sought-after partner in EU projects with advisory relevance. The consortia, usually consisting of 20 to 70 project partners, see the role of EUFRAS mainly in the area of dissemination and long-term safeguarding of project results. The website is increasingly becoming an information and exchange platform. Without EUFRAS, agricultural advisors would simply be overlooked as professionals for innovation and knowledge exchange, and EU projects would still be based exclusively on research that is in part remote from practice. With 50 EUFRAS partner organizations by now, a critical mass has been reached, and the Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG Agri) of the EU Commission has offered EUFRAS a seat on the Common Agricultural Policy - Civil Dialogue Group (CAP-CDG).

EUFRAS Main Activities

  • Conferences and network meetings

  • Representation of the interests of rural advisory services

  • Qualification of rural advisors

  • CECRA Advisory Methodology Courses

  • Young EUFRAS Training and Mentoring Programme

  • CECRA Training of Trainers

  • Adviser exchange

  • -Platform for EU projects

  • Project and innovation support service

  • Matching of consortium partners for EU projects

  • The website with up-to-date information and links to all EU projects for rural advisory services

Hosts present agriculture and AKIS in Estonia

The event was hosted by Leho Verk, head of the Estonian Agricultural Extension Service Maaelu Endendamise Sihtasatus (MES), the Rural Development Foundation. Leho Verk and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Marko Gorban gave an overview of Estonian agriculture. Estonia has 10,000 farms and 1 million ha of agricultural land. Estonians are proud of the fact that they have the highest milk yield in Europe and that they are second in organic farming with 23 %. Estonia's agriculture is also a pioneer in reducing the use of pesticides. After 45 years of Soviet occupation with forced collectivization of agriculture, the land was gradually returned to the owners after the restoration of independence in 1991. The need for advice was enormous for the approximately 50,000 farms in 2000, as most of the farm managers had no agricultural experience.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Marko Gorban gives an overview of Estonian agriculture and AKIS in Estonia.

The agricultural advisory service in Estonia is about to undergo a major restructuring. In Estonia, based on the AKIS concept (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System), it is intended to merge applied research, laboratory, and consultancy services in one organization in order to achieve greater integration and improved cooperation between the various actors who support agriculture with knowledge, innovations, and advice and develop rural areas. The director general of this new organization called METK (Maaelu Teadmuskekus, translated as Rural Research and Knowledge Centre) is Andre Veskioja. METK is comparable to a state institute or a chamber of agriculture, which offers both - research and advisory services - under one roof. Andre Veskioja emphasized the central role of advisory services in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and the networking of all actors in AKIS as the basis for successful innovation processes.

On the largest dairy farm in Northern Europe

The excursion on the 2nd of March went to the largest dairy farm in Northern Europe Väätsa Agro with 3000 dairy cows. The CEO of Väätsa Agro, Lenno Link, compared production costs per litre of milk with those in Germany. At 30 cents per litre full cost, this large farm can produce for about half the average full cost in Germany. However, the milk price is also 8-10 cents lower. When asked how important the EU is to him, Leno Link replied that the farm with 100 employees could not exist without EU subsidies. Half of the employees are now Ukrainian. The availability of these workers - despite all the horrors of war and flight from their homeland - is a stroke of luck for the company. Russian is spoken by 20% of the Estonian population and the 45+ generation has learned Russian at school so that communication is possible without a major language barrier.

Estonia has the highest milk yield in Europe. EUFRAS visits the largest dairy farm Väätsa Agro with about 3000 dairy cows. The carousel has 80 places. On the right EUFARS board members Pablo Asensio (DE), Jussi Juhola (FI), Anton Jagodic (SLO), Anita Dzelme (LV)

Three new EUFRAS member organizations strengthen the network

Since the last EUFRAS network meeting in September 2022 in Leuven (Belgium), the following agricultural advisory services have become members:

  • Maaelu Teadmuskekus METK translated Rural Research and Knowledge Centre of Estonia. METK is a new organization merging all the major actors of AKIS in Estonia.

  • Hushållningssällskapet, the Rural Economy and Agriculture Societies from Sweden. The advisory service has a 200-year-old tradition! Hushållningssällskapet is thus one of the most established agricultural extension services in the world.

  • Association of Agricultural Advisors (vab – Vereniging Agrarische Bedrijfsadviseurs) from the Netherlands. The adviser network with 600 individual members has developed a further training certificate in which the advisers set themselves a 4-year personal development goal and compile their further training based on this.

Current European projects and reports, event information for agricultural advisors

Elena-Teodora Miron from the Austrian Chambers of Agriculture offers the Project and innovation support service for EUFRAS members. She gave an outlook on the upcoming EU calls for proposals and in which thematic areas project applications can be expected in the future.

Pablo Asensio reported together with three online participants from EUFRAS' own Erasmus+ project EUFRAS-YPARD Young Advisors Mentoring & Training Program. 21 young advisors from seven different countries are currently undergoing a trainee program and will complete this qualification with the CECRA certificate in September in Dresden at the IALB conference. The aim of the project is to actively counter the shortage of skilled workers and the aging of the agricultural advisory sector.

Pablo Asensio, FüAk und EUFRAS Board member reports from the Erasmus+ Trainee program for young advisors.

Isidro Campos-Rodriguez, Policy Officer at the EC, DG AGRI B.2 Environmental presented the “Farm Sustainability Tool” (FaST) to farmers, which must be offered on a mandatory basis by EU member states.

The EU project BovINE - Beef Innovation Network Europe networks beef-fattening advisors from all over Europe. Maeve Henchion from TEAGASC (Ireland) presented the main project results. For example, infrared detection of hoof diseases was identified as an important tool.

The role of extension in the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) is currently under intense discussion. Elena-Teodora Miron gave an overview of current activities in the field of AKIS in her contribution "How the member states organize their AKIS system: exchange of info". Aleksander Bomberski, EUFRAS Board Member from the Agricultural Advisory Center in Brwinów (Poland) announced the EIP-Agri AKIS seminar of the EU Commission from 14-15 June 2023 in Vilnius.

EUFRAS Board Member Alexander Bomberski, on behalf of the EU Support Facility for Innovation & Knowledge Exchange, invites you to the EIP-AGRI Seminar "AKIS Models in Europe" in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 14-15 June 2023.

IALB I EUFRAS I SEASN Conference 2023 in Dresden. The 62nd IALB, 12th EUFRAS and 9th SEASN Conference will be held in Dresden from 10-14 September 2023. Pablo Asensio from the State Management Academy for Food, Agriculture and Forestry in Bavaria invited on behalf of the hosts from Saxony to the biggest annual rural advisors networking event.

In a poster session, further projects were presented in which the EU promotes networking and further development of the agricultural extension. Presentations and Posters are all available for download: Presentations and Posters.

Two side events for i2connect's innovation consultancy at the EUFRAS General Meeting 2023 in Tallinn (Estonia)

The EU Horizon 2020 project i2connect hosted two side events in Tallinn: on the 27 and 28 February, leaders from European rural extension services met in the Excellence Class to exchange on enabling environments for innovation. The Creative Content Group of the i2connect project met on the 3rd of March and evaluated the Training-of-Trainer series (TTT), in which 60 trainers were trained on innovation support methods for national advisor trainings. Information on the i2connect project at

The Creative Content Group of the EU Horizon project i2connect evaluates the train-the-trainer qualification on innovation consulting methods using the timeline method and worldcafé elements in a side event to the EUFRAS Annual General Meeting. Group photo: Rui Almeida (Consulai PT), Jurrian Nannes (Uni Wageningen NL) Linda Šarķe und Kaspars Žūriņš (LLKC LV), Sangeun Bae (Uni Hohenheim DE), Krista Mikkonenen (ProAgria FI), Niels Rump( Agridea CH), Prof. Alex Koutsouris (Uni Athen GR), Ugo Denis (Chambre d‘agriculture Normandie FR), Pablo Asensio (FüAk DE), Dr. Eelke Wielinga (NL).

Credits: Pablo Asensio EUFRAS Board member from FüAk, Germany