We’re excited about the programme and we’re committed to continuing support for Action Groups to be successful.
B+LNZ is a firm believer in this extension and adoption support model and sees this as a key tool for driving farmer profitability. We also see Action Groups as a way to further enhance our support to farmers, rural professionals and the sector in adapting to challenges such as government regulation (e.g. climate change, water) and the changing views of consumers and the wider public.
From the initial analysis undertaken by RMPP, there is significant value for farmers from being involved in Action Groups. The value is not only financial, it is also the networks, shared learnings and social connections.
There will be some changes to the current programme as B+LNZ takes on full management to ensure we run the most cost-effective programme. We’re currently discussing those with participants to ensure groups have the support they need.
Key questions that participants have raised are around funding post June 2020, how groups will manage the ongoing administration and payments to facilitators, the ongoing costs for groups without RMPP funding, how new Action Groups will be supported and what activities B+LNZ will be undertaking to support groups, facilitators and the wider programme into the future.
We have outlined below our proposed approach and this will continue to be refined as we discuss this with groups.
At the establishment of an Action Group, $4,000 per farm per group was made available to support facilitator and expert costs. This funding is only available until 30th June 2020, regardless of whether the group has spent all of the $4,000 per farm.
Following full use of the set-up funding or 30th June 2020, whichever comes first, group members themselves are responsible for covering the costs of employing a facilitator, group administration and any expert-related costs.
The Action Group will need to manage payments to facilitators and experts employed for activities undertaken by the group. B+LNZ has a fact sheet available for setting up a bank account for Action Groups.
For those groups transitioning to being self-funded, B+LNZ is developing some guidance and checklists to help with a smooth transition.
We have provided a guide to the ongoing costs for a group. There is a range and some variables which come into play regarding the facilitation costs, examples of these are:
- Experience level of facilitator and their related hourly rate
- Level of administration provided by the facilitator versus group members
- Organisational tasks carried out by the group versus the facilitator
- Level of analysis and materials provided for each activity by the facilitator
|Quartile||Typical spend per group activity*|
* This is for facilitation only. The spend on subject matter experts varies depending on the level of expertise being sought and who is involved.
It’s important to understand there will be no further funding available to existing Action Groups beyond 30 June 2020.
New Action Groups post-June 2020
We know that many farmers who have heard about the benefits of Action Groups are looking to start new groups.
B+LNZ does not have funding to support groups at $4,000 per farm, however we want to support groups who want to get up and going.
One of the key pieces of feedback we’ve had from both farmers and facilitators is that getting these groups up and running takes time and this can be challenging for facilitators whose time is also their income earner.
Therefore, in addition to checklists and processes for getting a group going, B+LNZ plans to offer some form of seed funding to new groups after 30 June for the initial group start-up.
It is envisaged this would be a one-off payment. This funding would help with group formation and setting up the group structure and objectives as this has been identified as time consuming and a potential barrier to forming a group.
This will be funded through our regional delivery programme fund. We’ll also have our Regional Staff to call on who can pass on best practice ideas gleaned from other groups nationwide.
Some 278 people have been trained through RMPP-funded facilitation courses and this has given a significant boost to the individuals who were trained and to the sector with a large cohort of facilitators trained.
B+LNZ strongly supports the benefits of facilitation training. As the holder of the programme, we have begun discussions with third parties to provide ongoing professional development in extension and small group learning on a user pays basis.
This is to ensure that quality standards are maintained for facilitation, that there is ongoing facilitator support and also an entry point for new facilitators wanting to work with Action Groups.
Ongoing Action Group Support
Ongoing support will be provided to existing and new Action Groups via the B+LNZ Regional teams. We’ve listed below the ways in which we’re committed to support groups.
- Annual regional conference that brings groups together to share ideas/ learnings
- Maintenance of up-to-date directory with group focus and contact details
- Quarterly newsletter sharing best practice and farmer case studies
- Maintenance of expert and facilitator directory as a resource for regional groups
- B+LNZ will have an annual outreach programme to the wider farming community to share case studies through various rural media channels. This will include videos, written stories and podcasts
- Access to B+LNZ tools and resources including delivery ready workshops, learning modules etc.
- B+LNZ’s 25 staff based in rural communities and operating with farmers will provide a network that connects facilitators, lead farmers, and groups with others nationwide.
Continuation of action hubs through physical meetings or conference calls to share new B+LNZ initiatives and information, compare notes and address common issues
Independent feedback through intelligence gathering via interaction with lead farmers and other group members.
For lead farmers:
- Formal contact individually to ensure group and facilitator are performing to expectations
- Conference call to address common issues across groups identified through regional intelligence.
Find out more
As we go through this transition, we’re always keen to have feedback from Action Group members and facilitators on how we can improve our ongoing support so please reach out and contact John Ladley firstname.lastname@example.org, a member of the RMPP Action Network Customer Support team on 0800 733 632 or email email@example.com with any questions or suggestions you have.